Agarwal SK, Jothi R
Inactivating mutations in the MEN1 gene predisposing to the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome can also cause sporadic pancreatic endocrine tumors. MEN1 encodes menin, a subunit of MLL1/MLL2-containing histone methyltransferase complexes that trimethylate histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me3). The importance of menin-dependent H3K4me3 in normal and transformed pancreatic endocrine cells is unclear. To study the role of menin-dependent H3K4me3, we performed in vitro differentiation of wild-type as well as menin-null mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) into pancreatic islet-like endocrine cells (PILECs). Gene expression analysis and genome-wide H3K4me3 ChIP-Seq profiling in wild-type and menin-null mESCs and PILECs revealed menin-dependent H3K4me3 at the imprinted Dlk1-Meg3 locus in mESCs, and all four Hox loci in differentiated PILECs. Specific and significant loss of H3K4me3 and gene expression was observed for genes within the imprinted Dlk1-Meg3 locus in menin-null mESCs and the Hox loci in menin-null PILECs. Given that the reduced expression of genes within the DLK1-MEG3 locus and the HOX loci is associated with MEN1-like sporadic tumors, our data suggests a possible role for menin-dependent H3K4me3 at these genes in the initiation and progression of sporadic pancreatic endocrine tumors. Furthermore, our investigation also demonstrates that menin-null mESCs can be differentiated in vitro into islet-like endocrine cells, underscoring the utility of menin-null mESC-derived specialized cell types for genome-wide high-throughput studies.