Alcohol exposure affects neuronal plasticity in the adult and developing brain. Astrocytes play a major role in modulating neuronal plasticity and are a target of ethanol. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is involved in modulating neuronal plasticity by degrading the extracellular matrix proteins including fibronectin and laminin and is up-regulated by ethanol in vivo. In this study we explored the hypothesis that ethanol affects DNA methylation in astrocytes thereby increasing expression and release of tPA. It was found that ethanol increased tPA mRNA levels, an effect mimicked by an inhibitor of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity. Ethanol also increased tPA protein expression and release, and inhibited DNMT activity with a corresponding decrease in DNA methylation levels of the tPA promoter. Furthermore, it was observed that protein levels of DNMT3A, but not DNMT1, were reduced in astrocytes after ethanol exposure. These novel studies show that ethanol inhibits DNA methylation in astrocytes leading to increased tPA expression and release; this effect may be involved in astrocyte-mediated inhibition of neuronal plasticity by alcohol.
- DNA methylation
- DNA methyltransferase
- tissue plasminogen activator
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience