Systemic sclerosis (SSc), an autoimmune disease of connective tissue, is characterized by inflammation, fibrosis, and vessel endothelial damage. Products of Integrin subunit beta 2 (ITGB2) and selectin L (SELL) genes participate in several functional pathways of immune system. The aim of this investigation was to survey the transcript level of ITGB2 and SELL genes as well as methylation status of CpG sites in promoter region of differently expressed gene in PBMCs of SSc patients. PBMCs were isolated from whole blood of 50 SSc patients and 30 healthy controls. Total RNA and DNA contents of PBMCs were extracted. Gene expression was analyzed by real-time PCR using the SYBR Green PCR Master Mix. To investigate the methylation status of CpG sites, DNA samples were treated by bisulfite, amplified through nested PCR, and sequenced through Sanger difficult sequencing method. ITGB2 gene in PBMCs of SSc patients was overexpressed significantly in comparison to healthy controls. However, no altered SELL expression was observed. Three CpG sites of 12, 13 and 14 were significantly hypomethylated in patients group, despite overall methylation status of ITGB2 gene promoter revealed no significant difference between study groups. There was no statistically significant correlation between methylation status of ITGB2 promoter and the gene expression in patients. Regarding to lack of correlation of increased expression of ITGB2 with its promoter hypomethylation in SSc patients, our study suggests that upregulation of ITGB2 in PBMCs from SSc patients is probably due to another mechanism other than methylation alteration.
Keywords: CpG site; DNA methylation; ITGB2; SELL; Systemic sclerosis.