Suppression of Klotho expression by protein-bound uremic toxins is associated with increased DNA methyltransferase expression and DNA hypermethylation

Kidney Int. 2012 Apr;81(7):640-50. doi: 10.1038/ki.2011.445. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


The expression of the renoprotective antiaging gene Klotho is decreased in uremia. Recent studies suggest that Klotho may be a tumor suppressor, and its expression may be repressed by DNA hypermethylation in cancer cells. Here we investigated the effects and possible mechanisms by which Klotho expression is regulated during uremia in uninephrectomized B-6 mice given the uremic toxins indoxyl sulfate or p-cresyl sulfate. Cultured human renal tubular HK2 cells treated with these toxins were used as an in vitro model. Injections of indoxyl sulfate or p-cresyl sulfate increased their serum concentrations, kidney fibrosis, CpG hypermethylation of the Klotho gene, and decreased Klotho expression in renal tubules of these mice. The expression of DNA methyltransferases 1, 3a, and 3b isoforms in HK2 cells treated with indoxyl sulfate or p-cresyl sulfate was significantly increased. Specific inhibition of DNA methyltransferase isoform 1 by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine caused demethylation of the Klotho gene and increased Klotho expression in vitro. Thus, inhibition of Klotho gene expression by uremic toxins correlates with gene hypermethylation, suggesting that epigenetic modification of specific genes by uremic toxins may be an important pathological mechanism of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azacitidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • CpG Islands
  • Cresols / metabolism
  • Cresols / toxicity
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Decitabine
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Indican / metabolism
  • Indican / toxicity
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • Toxins, Biological / metabolism*
  • Toxins, Biological / toxicity
  • Uremia / etiology
  • Uremia / genetics*
  • Uremia / metabolism*
  • Uremia / pathology


  • Cresols
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • Toxins, Biological
  • 4-cresol sulfate
  • Decitabine
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • Glucuronidase
  • klotho protein
  • Azacitidine
  • Indican