NYMC Faculty Publications

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Second Department

Cell Biology and Anatomy

Third Department



To elucidate molecular mechanisms responsible for the sexually dimorphic phenotype of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) expression, we tested the hypothesis that female-specific down-regulation of sEH expression is driven by estrogen-dependent methylation of the Ephx2 gene. Mesenteric arteries isolated from male, female, ovariectomized female (OV), and OV with estrogen replacement (OVE) mice, as well as the human cell line (HEK293T) were used. Methylation-specific PCR and bisulfite genomic sequencing analysis indicate significant increases in DNA/CG methylation in vessels of female and OVE compared with those of male and OV mice. The same increase in CG methylation was also observed in male vessels incubated with a physiological concentration of 17beta-estradiol (17beta-E2) for 48 hours. All vessels that displayed increases in CG methylation were concomitantly associated with decreases in their Ephx2 mRNA and protein, suggesting a methylation-induced gene silencing. Transient transfection assays indicate that the activity of Ephx2 promoter-coding luciferase was significantly attenuated in HEK293T cells treated with 17beta-E2, which was prevented by additional treatment with an estrogen receptor antagonist (ICI). ChIP analysis indicates significantly reduced binding activities of transcription factors (including SP1, AP-1, and NF-kappaB with their binding elements located in the Ephx2 promoter) in vessels of female mice and human cells treated with 17beta-E2, responses that were prevented by ICI and Decitabine (DNA methyltransferase inhibitor), respectively. In conclusion, estrogen/estrogen receptor-dependent methylation of the promoter of Ephx2 gene silences sEH expression, which is involved in specific transcription factor-directed regulatory pathways.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in PNAS, 115(3), 613-618. The original material can be found here.