An inactivating mutation in the histone deacetylase SIRT6 causes human perinatal lethality


It has been well established that histone and DNA modifications are critical to maintaining the equilibrium between pluripotency and differentiation during early embryogenesis. Mutations in key regulators of DNA methylation have shown that the balance between gene regulation and function is critical during neural development in early years of life. However, there have been no identified cases linking epigenetic regulators to aberrant human development and fetal demise. Here, we demonstrate that a homozygous inactivating mutation in the histone deacetylase SIRT6 results in severe congenital anomalies and perinatal lethality in four affected fetuses. In vitro, the amino acid change at Asp63 to a histidine results in virtually complete loss of H3K9 deacetylase and demyristoylase functions. Functionally, SIRT6 D63H mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) fail to repress pluripotent gene expression, direct targets of SIRT6, and exhibit an even more severe phenotype than Sirt6-deficient ESCs when differentiated into embryoid bodies (EBs). When terminally differentiated toward cardiomyocyte lineage, D63H mutant mESCs maintain expression of pluripotent genes and fail to form functional cardiomyocyte foci. Last, human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from D63H homozygous fetuses fail to differentiate into EBs, functional cardiomyocytes, and neural progenitor cells due to a failure to repress pluripotent genes. Altogether, our study described a germline mutation in SIRT6 as a cause for fetal demise, defining SIRT6 as a key factor in human development and identifying the first mutation in a chromatin factor behind a human syndrome of perinatal lethality. © 2018 Ferrer et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Authors Ferrer CM, Alders M, Postma AV, Park S, Klein MA, Cetinbas M, Pajkrt E, Glas A, van Koningsbruggen S, Christoffels VM, Mannens MMAM, Knegt L, Etchegaray JP, Sadreyev RI, Denu JM, Mostoslavsky G, van Maarle MC, Mostoslavsky R
Journal Genes & development
Publication Date 2018 Mar 1;32(5-6):373-388
PubMed 29555651
PubMed Central PMC5900711
DOI 10.1101/gad.307330.117

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