Pericentromeric satellite repeats are enriched in 5-methylcytosine (5mC). Loss of 5mC at these sequences is common in cancer and is a hallmark of Immunodeficiency, Centromere and Facial abnormalities (ICF) syndrome. While the general importance of 5mC is well-established, the specific functions of 5mC at pericentromeres are less clear. To address this deficiency, we generated a viable animal model of pericentromeric hypomethylation through mutation of the ICF-gene ZBTB24. Deletion of zebrafish zbtb24 caused a progressive loss of 5mC at pericentromeres and ICF-like phenotypes. Hypomethylation of these repeats triggered derepression of pericentromeric transcripts and activation of an interferon-based innate immune response. Injection of pericentromeric RNA is sufficient to elicit this response in wild-type embryos, and mutation of the MDA5-MAVS dsRNA-sensing machinery blocks the response in mutants. These findings identify activation of the innate immune system as an early consequence of pericentromeric hypomethylation, implicating derepression of pericentromeric transcripts as a trigger of autoimmunity. Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that all the issues have been addressed (see decision letter).
- DNA methylation
- gene expression
- ICF Syndrome
- interferon response
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)