Analysis of DNA methylation in a three-generation family reveals widespread genetic influence on epigenetic regulation.
ABSTRACT: The methylation of cytosines in CpG dinucleotides is essential for cellular differentiation and the progression of many cancers, and it plays an important role in gametic imprinting. To assess variation and inheritance of genome-wide patterns of DNA methylation simultaneously in humans, we applied reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) to somatic DNA from six members of a three-generation family. We observed that 8.1% of heterozygous SNPs are associated with differential methylation in cis, which provides a robust signature for Mendelian transmission and relatedness. The vast majority of differential methylation between homologous chromosomes (>92%) occurs on a particular haplotype as opposed to being associated with the gender of the parent of origin, indicating that genotype affects DNA methylation of far more loci than does gametic imprinting. We found that 75% of genotype-dependent differential methylation events in the family are also seen in unrelated individuals and that overall genotype can explain 80% of the variation in DNA methylation. These events are under-represented in CpG islands, enriched in intergenic regions, and located in regions of low evolutionary conservation. Even though they are generally not in functionally constrained regions, 22% (twice as many as expected by chance) of genes harboring genotype-dependent DNA methylation exhibited allele-specific gene expression as measured by RNA-seq of a lymphoblastoid cell line, indicating that some of these events are associated with gene expression differences. Overall, our results demonstrate that the influence of genotype on patterns of DNA methylation is widespread in the genome and greatly exceeds the influence of imprinting on genome-wide methylation patterns.
Project description:Mammalian imprinted genes are associated with differentially methylated regions (DMRs) that are CpG methylated on one of the two parental chromosomes. In mice, at least 21 DMRs acquire differential methylation in the germline and many of them act as imprint centres. We previously reported the physical extents of differential methylation at 15 DMRs in mouse embryos at 12.5 days postcoitum. To reveal the ontogeny of differential methylation, we determined and compared methylation patterns of the corresponding regions in sperm and oocytes. We found that the extent of the gametic DMRs differs significantly from that of the embryonic DMRs, especially in the case of paternal gametic DMRs. These results suggest that the gametic DMR sequences should be used to extract the features specifying methylation imprint establishment in the germline: from this analysis, we noted that the maternal gametic DMRs appear as unmethylated islands in male germ cells, which suggests a novel component in the mechanism of gamete-specific marking. Analysis of selected DMRs in blastocysts revealed dynamic changes in allelic methylation in early development, indicating that DMRs are not fully protected from the major epigenetic reprogramming events occurring during preimplantation development. Furthermore, we observed non-CpG methylation in oocytes, but not in sperm, which disappeared by the blastocyst stage. Non-CpG methylation was frequently found at maternally methylated DMRs as well as non-DMR regions, suggesting its prevalence in the oocyte genome. These results provide evidence for a unique methylation profile in oocytes and reveal the surprisingly dynamic nature of DMRs in the early embryo.
Project description:Differential DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation of imprinted genes. The differentially methylated state of the imprinting control region is inherited via the gametes at fertilization, and is stably maintained in somatic cells throughout development, influencing the expression of genes across the imprinting cluster. In contrast, DNA methylation patterns are more labile at secondary differentially methylated regions which are established at imprinted loci during post-implantation development. To investigate the nature of these more variably methylated secondary differentially methylated regions, we adopted a hairpin linker bisulfite mutagenesis approach to examine CpG dyad methylation at differentially methylated regions associated with the murine Dlk1/Gtl2 imprinting cluster on both complementary strands.We observed homomethylation at greater than 90% of the methylated CpG dyads at the IG-DMR, which serves as the imprinting control element. In contrast, homomethylation was only observed at 67-78% of the methylated CpG dyads at the secondary differentially methylated regions; the remaining 22-33% of methylated CpG dyads exhibited hemimethylation.We propose that this high degree of hemimethylation could explain the variability in DNA methylation patterns at secondary differentially methylated regions associated with imprinted loci. We further suggest that the presence of 5-hydroxymethylation at secondary differentially methylated regions may result in hemimethylation and methylation variability as a result of passive and/or active demethylation mechanisms.
Project description:Differential distribution of DNA methylation on the parental alleles of imprinted genes distinguishes the alleles from each other and dictates their parent of origin-specific expression patterns. While differential DNA methylation at primary imprinting control regions is inherited via the gametes, additional allele-specific DNA methylation is acquired at secondary sites during embryonic development and plays a role in the maintenance of genomic imprinting. The precise mechanisms by which this somatic DNA methylation is established at secondary sites are not well defined and may vary as methylation acquisition at these sites occurs at different times for genes in different imprinting clusters.In this study, we show that there is also variability in the timing of somatic DNA methylation acquisition at multiple sites within a single imprinting cluster. Paternal allele-specific DNA methylation is initially acquired at similar stages of post-implantation development at the linked Dlk1 and Gtl2 differentially methylated regions (DMRs). In contrast, unlike the Gtl2-DMR, the maternal Dlk1-DMR acquires DNA methylation in adult tissues.These data suggest that the acquisition of DNA methylation across the Dlk1/Gtl2 imprinting cluster is variable. We further found that the Dlk1 differentially methylated region displays low DNA methylation fidelity, as evidenced by the presence of hemimethylation at approximately one-third of the methylated CpG dyads. We hypothesize that the maintenance of DNA methylation may be less efficient at secondary differentially methylated sites than at primary imprinting control regions.
Project description:Genomic imprinting requires the differential marking by DNA methylation of genes in male and female gametes. In the female germline, acquisition of methylation imprint marks depends upon the de novo methyltransferase Dnmt3a and its cofactor Dnmt3L, but the reasons why specific sequences are targets for Dnmt3a and Dnmt3L are still poorly understood. Here, we investigate the role of transcription in establishing maternal germline methylation marks. We show that at the Gnas locus, truncating transcripts from the furthest upstream Nesp promoter disrupts oocyte-derived methylation of the differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Transcription through DMRs in oocytes is not restricted to this locus but occurs across the prospective DMRs at many other maternally marked imprinted domains, suggesting a common requirement for transcription events. The transcripts implicated here in gametic methylation are protein-coding, in contrast to the noncoding antisense transcripts involved in the monoallelic silencing of imprinted genes in somatic tissues, although they often initiate from alternative promoters in oocytes. We propose that transcription is a third essential component of the de novo methylation system, which includes optimal CpG spacing and histone modifications, and may be required to create or maintain open chromatin domains to allow the methylation complex access to its preferred targets.
Project description:Mouse chromosome 7F4/F5, where the imprinting domain is located, is syntenic to human 11p15.5, the locus for Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. The domain is thought to consist of the two subdomains Kip2 (p57(kip2))/Lit1 and Igf2/H19. Because DNA methylation is believed to be a key factor in genomic imprinting, we performed large-scale DNA methylation analysis to identify the cis-element crucial for the regulation of the Kip2/Lit1 subdomain. Ten CpG islands (CGIs) were found, and these were located at the promoter sites, upstream of genes, and within intergenic regions. Bisulphite sequencing revealed that CGIs 4, 5, 8, and 10 were differentially methylated regions (DMRs). CGIs 4, 5, and 10 were methylated paternally in somatic tissues but not in germ cells. CGI8 was methylated in oocyte and maternally in somatic tissues during development. Parental-specific DNase I hypersensitive sites (HSSs) were found near CGI8. These data indicate that CGI8, called DMR-Lit1, is not only the region for gametic methylation but might also be the imprinting control region (ICR) of the subdomain.
Project description:Ndn is located on chromosome 7C, an imprinted region of the mouse genome. Imprinting of Ndn and adjacent paternally expressed genes is regulated by a regional imprinting control element known as the imprinting center (IC). An IC also controls imprint resetting of target genes in the region of conserved synteny on human chromosome 15q11-q13, which is deleted or rearranged in the neurodevelopmental disorder Prader-Willi syndrome. Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation, which occur in gametes and can be stably propagated, are presumed to establish and maintain the imprint in target genes of the IC. While most DNA becomes substantially demethylated by the blastocyst stage, some imprinted genes have regions that escape global demethylation and may maintain the imprint. We have now analyzed the methylation of 39 CpG dinucleotide sequences in the 5' end of Ndn by sodium bisulfite sequencing in gametes and in preimplantation and adult tissues. While sperm DNA is completely unmethylated across this region, oocyte DNA is partially methylated. A distinctive but unstable maternal methylation pattern persists until the morula stage and is lost in the blastocyst stage, where low levels of methylation are present on most DNA strands of either parental origin. The methylation pattern is then substantially remodeled, and fewer than half of maternally derived DNA strands in adult brain resemble the oocyte pattern. We postulate that for Ndn, DNA methylation may initially preserve a gametic imprint during preimplantation development, but other epigenetic events may maintain the imprint later in embryonic development.
Project description:At the heart of genomic imprinting in mammals are imprinting control regions (ICRs), which are the discrete genetic elements that confer imprinted monoallelic expression to several genes in imprinted gene clusters. A characteristic of the known ICRs is that they acquire different epigenetic states, exemplified by differences in DNA methylation, in the sperm and egg, and these imprint marks remain on the sperm- and oocyte-derived alleles into the next generation as a lifelong memory of parental origin. Although there has been much focus on gametic marking of ICRs as the point of imprint specification, recent mechanistic studies and genome-wide DNA methylation profiling do not support the existence of a specific imprinting machinery in germ cells. Rather, ICRs are part of more widespread methylation events that occur during gametogenesis. Instead, a decisive component in the specification of imprints is the choice of which sites of gamete-derived methylation to maintain in the zygote and preimplantation embryo at a time when much of the remainder of the genome is being demethylated. Among the factors involved in this selection, the zinc-finger protein Zfp57 can be regarded as an imprint-specific, sequence-specific DNA binding factor responsible for maintaining methylation at most ICRs. The recent insights into the balance of gametic and zygotic contributions to imprint specification should help understand mechanistic opportunities and constraints on the evolution of imprinting in mammals.
Project description:DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic process in mammals, intimately involved in gene regulation. Here we address the extent to which genetics, sex, and pregnancy influence genomic DNA methylation by intercrossing 2 inbred mouse strains, C57BL/6N and C3H/HeN, and analyzing DNA methylation in parents and offspring using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing. Differential methylation across genotype is detected at thousands of loci and is preserved on parental alleles in offspring. In comparison of autosomal DNA methylation patterns across sex, hundreds of differentially methylated regions are detected. Comparison of animals with different histories of pregnancy within our study reveals a CpG methylation pattern that is restricted to female animals that had borne offspring. Collectively, our results demonstrate the stability of CpG methylation across generations, clarify the interplay of epigenetics with genetics and sex, and suggest that CpG methylation may serve as an epigenetic record of life events in somatic tissues at loci whose expression is linked to the relevant biology.
Project description:The Gnas locus in the mouse is imprinted with a complex arrangement of alternative transcripts defined by promoters with different patterns of monoallelic expression. The Gnas transcript is subject to tissue-specific imprinted expression, Nesp is expressed only from the maternal allele, and Gnasxl is expressed only from the paternal allele. The mechanisms controlling these expression patterns are not known. To identify potential imprinting regulatory regions, particularly for the reciprocally expressed Nesp and Gnasxl promoters, we examined epigenetic properties of the locus in gametes, embryonic stem cells, and fetal and adult tissues. The Nesp and Gnasxl promoter regions are contained in extensive CpG islands with methylation of the paternal allele at Nesp and the maternal allele at Gnasxl. Parental allele-specific DNase I-hypersensitive sites were found at these regions, which correlate with hypomethylation rather than actual expression status. A germ line methylation mark was identified covering the promoters for Gnasxl and the antisense transcript Nespas. Prominent DNase I-hypersensitive sites present on paternal alleles in embryonic stem cells are contained within this mark. This is the second gametic mark identified at Gnas and suggests that the Nesp and Gnasxl promoters are under separate control from the Gnas promoter. We propose models to account for the regulation of imprinting at the locus.
Project description:Genomic imprinting arises from allele-specific epigenetic modifications that are established during gametogenesis and that are maintained throughout somatic development. These parental-specific modifications include DNA methylation and post-translational modifications to histones, which create allele-specific active and repressive domains at imprinted regions. Through the use of a high-density genomic tiling array, we generated DNA and histone methylation profiles at 11 imprinted gene clusters in the mouse from DNA and from chromatin immunoprecipitated from sperm, heart, and cerebellum. Our analysis revealed that despite high levels of differential DNA methylation at non-CpG islands within these regions, imprinting control regions (ICRs) and secondary differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified by an overlapping pattern of H3K4 trimethylation (active chromatin) and H3K9 trimethylation (repressive chromatin) modifications in somatic tissue, and a sperm differentially methylated region (sDMR; sperm not equal somatic tissue). Using these features as a common signature of DMRs, we identified 11 unique regions that mapped to known imprinted genes, to uncharacterized genes, and to intergenic regions flanking known imprinted genes. A common feature among these regions was the presence of a CpG island and an array of tandem repeats. Collectively, this study provides a comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation and histone H3K4me3 and H3K9me3 modifications at imprinted gene clusters, and identifies common epigenetic and genetic features of regions regulating genomic imprinting.