DNMT1 is a required genomic regulator for murine liver histogenesis and regeneration

Kosuke Kaji, Valentina M. Factor, Jesper B. Andersen, Marian E. Durkin, Akira Tomokuni, Jens U. Marquardt, Matthias S. Matter, Tanya Hoang, Elizabeth A. Conner, Snorri S. Thorgeirsson*

*Corresponding author for this work
20 Citations (Scopus)


DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) is an essential regulator maintaining both epigenetic reprogramming during DNA replication and genome stability. We investigated the role of DNMT1 in the regulation of postnatal liver histogenesis under homeostasis and stress conditions. We generated Dnmt1 conditional knockout mice (Dnmt1Δalb) by crossing Dnmt1fl/fl with albumin-cyclization recombination transgenic mice. Serum, liver tissues, and primary hepatocytes were collected from 1-week-old to 20-week old mice. The Dnmt1Δalb phenotype was assessed by histology, confocal and electron microscopy, biochemistry, as well as transcriptome and methylation profiling. Regenerative growth was induced by partial hepatectomy and exposure to carbon tetrachloride. The impact of Dnmt1 knockdown was also analyzed in hepatic progenitor cell lines; proliferation, apoptosis, DNA damage, and sphere formation were assessed. Dnmt1 loss in postnatal hepatocytes caused global hypomethylation, enhanced DNA damage response, and initiated a senescence state causing a progressive inability to maintain tissue homeostasis and proliferate in response to injury. The liver regenerated through activation and repopulation from progenitors due to lineage-dependent differences in albumin-cyclization recombination expression, providing a basis for selection of less mature and therefore less damaged hepatic progenitor cell progeny. Consistently, efficient knockdown of Dnmt1 in cultured hepatic progenitor cells caused severe DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, senescence, and cell death. Mx1-cyclization recombination-driven deletion of Dnmt1 in adult quiescent hepatocytes did not affect liver homeostasis. Conclusion: These results establish the indispensable role of DNMT1-mediated epigenetic regulation in postnatal liver growth and regeneration; Dnmt1Δalb mice provide a unique experimental model to study the role of senescence and the contribution of progenitor cells to physiological and regenerative liver growth. (Hepatology 2016;64:582-598).

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)582-598
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2016


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