Nutrient sensitive protein O-GlcNAcylation modulates the transcriptome through epigenetic mechanisms during embryonic neurogenesis

Shama Parween, Thilina T. Alawathugoda, Ashok D. Prabakaran, S. Thameem Dheen, Randall H. Morse, Bright Starling Emerald, Suraiya A. Ansari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Protein O-GlcNAcylation is a dynamic, nutrient-sensitive monoglycosylation deposited on numerous nucleo-cytoplasmic and mitochondrial proteins, including transcription factors, epigenetic regulators, and histones. However, the role of protein OGlcNAcylation on epigenome regulation in response to nutrient perturbations during development is not well understood. Herein we recapitulated early human embryonic neurogenesis in cell culture and found that pharmacological up-regulation of OGlcNAc levels during human embryonic stem cells' neuronal differentiation leads to up-regulation of key neurogenic transcription factor genes. This transcriptional de-repression is associated with reduced H3K27me3 and increased H3K4me3 levels on the promoters of these genes, perturbing promoter bivalency possibly through increased EZH2-Thr311 phosphorylation. Elevated O-GlcNAc levels also lead to increased Pol II-Ser5 phosphorylation and affect H2BS112O-GlcNAc and H2BK120Ub1 on promoters. Using an in vivo rat model of maternal hyperglycemia, we show similarly elevated O-GlcNAc levels and epigenetic dysregulations in the developing embryo brains because of hyperglycemia, whereas pharmacological inhibition of O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) restored these molecular changes. Together, our results demonstrate O-GlcNAc mediated sensitivity of chromatin to nutrient status, and indicate how metabolic perturbations could affect gene expression during neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202201385
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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