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BACKGROUND: Recent findings from studies of mouse models of Mendelian disorders of epigenetic machinery strongly support the potential for postnatal therapies to improve neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits. As several of these therapies move into human clinical trials, the search for biomarkers of treatment efficacy is a priority. A potential postnatal treatment of Kabuki syndrome type 1 (KS1), caused by pathogenic variants in KMT2D encoding a histone-lysine methyltransferase, has emerged using a mouse model of KS1 (Kmt2d+/βGeo). In this mouse model, hippocampal memory deficits are ameliorated following treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi), AR-42. Here, we investigate the effect of both Kmt2d+/βGeo genotype and AR-42 treatment on neuroanatomy and on DNA methylation (DNAm) in peripheral blood. While peripheral blood may not be considered a "primary tissue" with respect to understanding the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders, it has the potential to serve as an accessible biomarker of disease- and treatment-related changes in the brain. METHODS: Half of the KS1 and wildtype mice were treated with 14 days of AR-42. Following treatment, fixed brain samples were imaged using MRI to calculate regional volumes. Blood was assayed for genome-wide DNAm at over 285,000 CpG sites using the Illumina Infinium Mouse Methylation array. DNAm patterns and brain volumes were analyzed in the four groups of animals: wildtype untreated, wildtype AR-42 treated, KS1 untreated and KS1 AR-42 treated. RESULTS: We defined a DNAm signature in the blood of KS1 mice, that overlapped with the human KS1 DNAm signature. We also found a striking 10% decrease in total brain volume in untreated KS1 mice compared to untreated wildtype, which correlated with DNAm levels in a subset KS1 signature sites, suggesting that disease severity may be reflected in blood DNAm. Treatment with AR-42 ameliorated DNAm aberrations in KS1 mice at a small number of signature sites. CONCLUSIONS: As this treatment impacts both neurological deficits and blood DNAm in mice, future KS clinical trials in humans could be used to assess blood DNAm as an early biomarker of therapeutic efficacy.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Epigenetics

Publication Date





Humans, Animals, Mice, DNA Methylation, Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors, Neuroanatomy, Biomarkers