How the local inflammatory environment regulates epigenetic changes in the context of autoimmune diseases remains unclear. Here we assessed the transcriptional and active enhancer profile of monocytes derived from the inflamed joints of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) patients, a model well-suited for studying autoimmune diseases. RNA-sequencing analysis demonstrated that synovial-derived monocytes display an activated phenotype, characterized by increased expression of surface activation markers and multiple chemokines and cytokines. This increased expression is regulated on the epigenetic level, as ChIPsequencing indicated increased H3K27 acetylation of genes upregulated in synovial monocytes. IFN signaling-associated genes are increased and epigenetically altered in synovial monocytes, suggesting a role for IFN in establishing the inflammatory phenotype. Treatment of human synovial monocytes with the Janus-associated kinase (JAK) inhibitor Ruxolitinib, which inhibits IFN signaling, transformed the activated enhancer landscape and reduced disease-associated gene expression, thereby inhibiting the inflammatory phenotype. Taken together, these data provide novel insight into epigenetic regulation of autoimmune disease-patient derived monocytes and suggest that altering the epigenetic profile can be a therapeutic approach for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.11.20.469222