Inhibition of Jumonji demethylases reprograms severe dilated cardiomyopathy and prolongs survival

Tram Anh Tran, Qing Jun Zhang, Lei Wang, Christopher Gonzales, Luc Girard, Herman May, Thomas G Gillette, Zhi Ping Liu, Elisabeth D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Hypertrophic/dilated cardiomyopathy, often a prequel to heart failure, is accompanied by maladaptive transcriptional changes that contribute to arrythmias and contractile misfunction. Transgenic mice constitutively expressing high levels of calcineurin are known to develop extreme heart hypertrophy, which progresses to dilated cardiomyopathy, and to die several weeks after birth. Here, we characterized aberrant transcriptional and epigenetic pathways in this mouse model and established a pharmacological approach to treat established cardiomyopathy. We found that H3K4me3 (trimethyl histone 3 lysine 4) and H3K9me3 (trimethyl histone 3 lysine 9) Jumonji histone demethylases are markedly increased at the protein level and show enhanced enzymatic activity in diseased hearts. These epigenetic regulators continued to increase with time, further affecting cardiac gene expression. Our findings parallel the lower H3K4me3 and H3K9me3 levels seen in human patients. Inhibition of Jumonji demethylase activities in vivo results in lower histone demethylase enzymatic function in the heart and higher histone methylation levels and leads to partial reduction of heart size, reversal of maladaptive transcriptional programs, improved heart function, and prolonged survival. At the molecular level, target genes of transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2 are specifically regulated in response to pharmacological or genetic inhibition of Jumonji demethylases. Similar transcriptional reversal of disease-associated genes is seen in a second disease model based on cardiac mechanical overload. Our findings validate pharmacological inhibitors of Jumonji demethylases as potential therapeutics for the treatment of cardiomyopathies across disease models and provide evidence of the reversal of maladaptive transcriptional reprogramming leading to partial restoration of cardiac function. In addition, this study defines pathways of therapeutic resistance upregulated with disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101515
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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