Nucleus Type-Specific DNA Methylomics Reveals Epigenetic "Memory" of Prior Adaptation in Skeletal Muscle

Function (Oxf). 2021 Aug 5;2(5):zqab038. doi: 10.1093/function/zqab038. eCollection 2021.


Using a mouse model of conditional and inducible in vivo fluorescent myonuclear labeling (HSA-GFP), sorting purification of nuclei, low-input reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS), and a translatable and reversible model of exercise (progressive weighted wheel running, PoWeR), we provide the first nucleus type-specific epigenetic information on skeletal muscle adaptation and detraining. Adult (>4 mo) HSA-GFP mice performed PoWeR for 8 wk then detrained for 12 wk; age-matched untrained mice were used to control for the long duration of the study. Myonuclei and interstitial nuclei from plantaris muscles were isolated for RRBS. Relative to untrained, PoWeR caused similar myonuclear CpG hypo- and hyper-methylation of promoter regions and substantial hypomethylation in interstitial nuclear promoters. Over-representation analysis of promoters revealed a larger number of hyper- versus hypo-methylated pathways in both nuclear populations after training and evidence for reciprocal regulation of methylation between nucleus types, with hypomethylation of promoter regions in Wnt signaling-related genes in myonuclei and hypermethylation in interstitial nuclei. After 12 wk of detraining, promoter CpGs in documented muscle remodeling-associated genes and pathways that were differentially methylated immediately after PoWeR were persistently differentially methylated in myonuclei, along with long-term promoter hypomethylation in interstitial nuclei. No enduring gene expression changes in muscle tissue were observed using RNA-sequencing. Upon 4 wk of retraining, mice that trained previously grew more at the whole muscle and fiber type-specific cellular level than training naïve mice, with no difference in myonuclear number. Muscle nuclei have a methylation epi-memory of prior training that may augment muscle adaptability to retraining.

Keywords: epigenetics; exercise training; methylation; muscle memory; myonuclei; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Epigenetic Memory
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle, Skeletal*


  • DNA