An Alu element-associated hypermethylation variant of the POMC gene is associated with childhood obesity.
ABSTRACT: The individual risk for common diseases not only depends on genetic but also on epigenetic polymorphisms. To assess the role of epigenetic variations in the individual risk for obesity, we have determined the methylation status of two CpG islands at the POMC locus in obese and normal-weight children. We found a hypermethylation variant targeting individual CpGs at the intron 2-exon 3 boundary of the POMC gene by bisulphite sequencing that was significantly associated with obesity. POMC exon 3 hypermethylation interferes with binding of the transcription enhancer P300 and reduces expression of the POMC transcript. Since intron 2 contains Alu elements that are known to influence methylation in their genomic vicinity, the exon 3 methylation variant seems to result from an Alu element-triggered default state of methylation boundary definition. Exon 3 hypermethylation in the POMC locus represents the first identified DNA methylation variant that is associated with the individual risk for obesity.
Project description:The highly repetitive Alu retroelements are regarded as methylation centres in the genome. Methylation in the gene promoters could be spreading from them. Promoter methylation of MLH1 is frequently detected in cancers, but the underlying mechanism is unclear. The aim of this study is to understand whether the methylation in the Alu elements is associated with promoter methylation in the MLH1 gene. Bisulfite genomic sequencing was used to analyse the CpG sites of the 5' end (promoter, exon 1 and Alu-containing intron 1) of the MLH1 gene in colorectal cancer cells and tissues, and gastric cancer tissues. Hypomethylation in the Alu elements and hypermethylation in the promoters and the regions between the promoters and the Alu elements were detected in two cancer cell lines and seven cancer tissues. However, demethylation or hypomethylation of the MLH1 promoter and regions between promoter and the Alu elements, and hypermethylation in the Alu elements, were identified in the normal tissues. MLH1 promoter methylation may spread from Alu elements that are located in intron 1 of the MLH1 gene. The trans-acting elements binding to the mutation sites could play a role in the methylation spreading.
Project description:Alu elements are the most abundant retrotransposable elements comprising ~11% of the human genome. Many studies have highlighted the role that Alu elements have in genetic instability and how their contribution to the assortment of mutagenic events can lead to cancer. As of yet, little has been done to quantitatively assess the association between Alu distribution and genes that are causally implicated in oncogenesis.We have investigated the effect of various Alu densities on the mutation type based classifications of cancer genes. In order to establish the direct relationship between Alus and the cancer genes of interest, genome wide Alu-related densities were measured using genes rather than the sliding windows of fixed length as the units. Several novel genomic features, such as the density of the adjacent Alu pairs and the number of Alu-Exon-Alu triplets, were developed in order to extend the investigation via the multivariate statistical analysis toward more advanced biological insight. In addition, we characterized the genome-wide intron Alu distribution with a mixture model that distinguished genes containing Alu elements from those with no Alus, and evaluated the gene-level effect of the 5'-TTAAAA motif associated with Alu insertion sites using a two-step regression analysis method.The study resulted in several novel findings worthy of further investigation. They include: (1) Recessive cancer genes (tumor suppressor genes) are enriched with Alu elements (p < 0.01) compared to dominant cancer genes (oncogenes) and the entire set of genes in the human genome; (2) Alu-related genomic features can be used to cluster cancer genes into biological meaningful groups; (3) The retention of exon Alus has been restricted in the human genome development, and an upper limit to the chromosome-level exon Alu densities is suggested by the distribution profile; (4) For the genes with at least one intron Alu repeat in individual chromosomes, the intron Alu densities can be well fitted by a Gamma distribution; (5) The effect of the 5'-TTAAAA motif on Alu densities varies across different chromosomes.
Project description:The gene coding for human keratin 18 (K18), a type I intermediate filament protein found in a variety of simple epithelia, is regulated correctly in transgenic mice but is promiscuously expressed after direct transfection into cell culture lines. We have begun an investigation of the mechanisms responsible for the correct regulation of K18 with a comparison of the chromatin state of K18 in permissive and nonpermissive transgenic mouse tissues to identify seven expression-specific, DNase-hypersensitive sites that correlate with known or potential regulatory regions of the gene. Four of these sites are associated with the proximal promoter region and the first intron that has been implicated previously in the transcriptional control of K18. Two hypersensitive sites are associated with a conserved Alu repetitive sequence located immediately upstream of the proximal promoter elements. Transcription of this Alu element in a direction opposite that of K18 was correlated with K18 expression in transgenic tissues. The final hypersensitive site was mapped to exon 6. The potential importance of this region for the expression of K18 was supported by the results of transient expression of the gene and various deleted constructions. In addition, exon 6 and the intron 1 regulatory region were distinguished from the remainder of K18 by differential DNA methylation in expressing and nonexpressing tissues. The CpG-rich proximal promoter and first exon regions remain unmethylated in both permissive and nonpermissive tissues. These results suggest that DNA methylation is not the primary mechanism of control of the gene. An Alu RNA polymerase III transcription unit and exon 6 are implicated in regulation of K18.
Project description:Hypermethylation of promoter CpG islands is generally recognized epigenetic mechanism responsible for gene silencing in cancer. However, molecular details on how this epigenetic mark triggers the process of gene downregulation are still elusive. Here, we used deep bisulfite sequencing and qPCR analysis to investigate the pattern of CpG methylation of ALDH1L1 promoter region and its association with the gene expression level in 16 paired breast cancer (BC) samples of different clinical stages. Expression of ALDH1L1 gene was suppressed in all examined BC samples up to 200-fold, and average hypermethylation level of the promoter region correlated positively with ALDH1L1 downregulation. We determined the role of every individual CpG site within the ALDH1L1 promoter, including upstream untranscribed region, first untranslated exon, and the start of the first intron, in aberrant gene expression by correlation analysis. The search revealed CpG sites which methylation has the highest impact on intensity of gene transcription. The majority of such CpG sites are located in a compact region in the first intron of the ALDH1L1 gene. These results assist in unraveling of dynamic nature of CpG promoter hypermethylation as well as demonstrate the efficiency of deep bisulfite sequencing in search for novel epigenetic markers in cancer.
Project description:Worldwide increasing childhood obesity is due to interactions between environmental and genetic factors, linked together by epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation.82 obese children (>95th BMI percentile , age: 3-18 years) were included. Anthropometric data, metabolic parameters, 25-OH vitamin D (25OHD), and pubertal status were recorded, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring was performed. BMI standard deviation score (SDS) was calculated. Using candidate gene approach, obesity- (insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), proopiomelanocortin (POMC)) and vitamin D metabolism-related genes (1-alfa-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), VDR) regulated by DNA methylation were selected. After isolating DNA from peripheral blood, bisulfite conversion, bisulfite specific polymerase chain reaction (BS-PCR), and pyrosequencing were carried out.No significant correlation between 25-OHD and metabolic parameters and DNA methylation status, but a tendency of positive correlation between VDR methylation status and 25-OHD (r = 0.2053,p = 0.066) were observed. Significant positive correlations between BMI SDS and CYP27B1 hypermethylation (r = 0.2371,p = 0.0342) and a significant negative correlation between IGF2 hypomethylation and BMI SDS (r = -0.305,p = 0.0059) were found. Conclusions Rate of obesity shows correlation with DNA methylation. Hypomethylation of IGF2 and hypermethylation of CYP27B1 genes might positively influence the rate of BMI observed in obese children.
Project description:Mutation-induced activation of splice sites in intronic repetitive sequences has contributed significantly to the evolution of exon-intron structure and genetic disease. Such events have been associated with mutations within transposable elements, most frequently in mutation hot-spots of Alus. Here, we report a case of Alu exonization resulting from a 367-nt genomic COL4A5 deletion that did not encompass any recognizable transposed element, leading to the Alport syndrome. The deletion brought to proximity the 5' splice site of COL4A5 exon 33 and a cryptic 3' splice site in an antisense AluY copy in intron 32. The fusion exon was depleted of purines and purine-rich splicing enhancers, but had low levels of intramolecular secondary structure, was flanked by short introns and had strong 5' and Alu-derived 3' splice sites, apparently compensating poor composition and context of the new exon. This case demonstrates that Alu splice sites can be activated by outlying deletions, highlighting Alu versatility in shaping the exon-intron organization and expanding the spectrum of mutational mechanisms that introduce repetitive sequences in mRNAs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The signals that determine atherosclerosis-specific DNA methylation profiles are only partially known. We previously identified a 29-bp DNA motif (differential methylation motif [DMM]) proximal to CpG islands (CGIs) that undergo demethylation in advanced human atheromas. Those data hinted that the DMM docks modifiers of DNA methylation and transcription. METHODS AND RESULTS:We sought to functionally characterize the DMM. We showed that the DMM overlaps with the RNA polymerase III-binding B box of Alu short interspersed nuclear elements and contains a DR2 nuclear receptor response element. Pointing to a possible functional role for an Alu DMM, CGIs proximal (<100 bp) to near-intact DMM-harboring Alu are significantly less methylated relative to CGIs proximal to degenerate DMM-harboring Alu or to DMM-devoid mammalian-wide interspersed repeat short interspersed nuclear elements in human arteries. As for DMM-binding factors, LXRB (liver X receptor β) binds the DMM in a DR2-dependent fashion, and LXR (liver X receptor) agonists induce significant hypermethylation of the bulk of Alu in THP-1 cells. Furthermore, we describe 3 intergenic long noncoding RNAs that harbor a DMM, are under transcriptional control by LXR agonists, and are differentially expressed between normal and atherosclerotic human aortas. Notably, CGIs adjacent to those long noncoding RNAs tend to be hypomethylated in symptomatic relative to stable human atheromas. CONCLUSIONS:Collectively, the data suggest that a DMM is associated with 2 distinct methylation states: relatively low methylation of in cis CGIs and Alu element hypermethylation. Based on the known atheroprotective role of LXRs, we propose that LXR agonist-induced Alu hypermethylation, a landmark of atherosclerosis, is a compensatory rather than proatherogenic response.
Project description:Mucolipidosis type II ?/? is a severe, autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder, caused by a defect in the GNPTAB gene that codes for the ?/? subunits of the GlcNAc-phosphotransferase. To date, over 100 different mutations have been identified in MLII ?/? patients, but no large deletions have been reported. Here we present the first case of a large homozygous intragenic GNPTAB gene deletion (c.3435-386_3602 + 343del897) encompassing exon 19, identified in a ML II ?/? patient. Long-range PCR and sequencing methodologies were used to refine the characterization of this rearrangement, leading to the identification of a 21 bp repetitive motif in introns 18 and 19. Further analysis revealed that both the 5' and 3' breakpoints were located within highly homologous Alu elements (Alu-Sz in intron 18 and Alu-Sq2, in intron 19), suggesting that this deletion has probably resulted from Alu-Alu unequal homologous recombination. RT-PCR methods were used to further evaluate the consequences of the alteration for the processing of the mutant pre mRNA GNPTAB, revealing the production of three abnormal transcripts: one without exon 19 (p.Lys1146_Trp1201del); another with an additional loss of exon 20 (p.Arg1145Serfs*2), and a third in which exon 19 was substituted by a pseudoexon inclusion consisting of a 62 bp fragment from intron 18 (p.Arg1145Serfs*16). Interestingly, this 62 bp fragment corresponds to the Alu-Sz element integrated in intron 18.This represents the first description of a large deletion identified in the GNPTAB gene and contributes to enrich the knowledge on the molecular mechanisms underlying causative mutations in ML II.
Project description:Childhood physical abuse (PA) and sexual abuse (SA) interact with monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene polymorphism to modify risk for mental disorders. In addition, PA and SA may alter gene activity through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, thereby further modifying risk for disorders. We investigated whether methylation in a region spanning the MAOA first exon and part of the first intron was associated with PA and/or SA, MAOA genotype, alcohol dependence, drug dependence, depression disorders, anxiety disorders, and conduct disorder. 114 Swedish women completed standardized diagnostic interviews and questionnaires to report PA and SA, and provided saliva samples for DNA extraction. DNA was genotyped for MAOA-uVNTR polymorphisms, and methylation of a MAOA region of interest (chrX: 43,515,544-43,515,991) was measured. SA, not PA, was associated with hypermethylation of the MAOA first exon relative to no-abuse, and the association was robust to adjustment for psychoactive medication, alcohol and drug dependence, and current substance use. SA and MAOA-uVNTR genotype, but not their interaction, was associated with MAOA methylation. SA associated with all measured mental disorders. Hypermethylation of MAOA first exon mediated the association of SA with current depression, and both methylation levels and SA independently predicted lifetime depression. Much remains to be learned about the independent effects of SA and MAOA-uVNTR genotypes on methylation of the MAOA first exon.
Project description:DNA methylation can cause stable changes in neuronal gene expression, but we know little about its role in individual differences in the wild. In this study, we focus on the vasopressin 1a receptor (avpr1a), a gene extensively implicated in vertebrate social behaviour, and explore natural variation in DNA methylation, genetic polymorphism and neuronal gene expression among 30 wild prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Examination of CpG density across 8?kb of the locus revealed two distinct CpG islands overlapping promoter and first exon, characterized by few CpG polymorphisms. We used a targeted bisulfite sequencing approach to measure DNA methylation across approximately 3?kb of avpr1a in the retrosplenial cortex, a brain region implicated in male space use and sexual fidelity. We find dramatic variation in methylation across the avrp1a locus, with pronounced diversity near the exon-intron boundary and in a genetically variable putative enhancer within the intron. Among our wild voles, differences in cortical avpr1a expression correlate with DNA methylation in this putative enhancer, but not with the methylation status of the promoter. We also find an unusually high number of polymorphic CpG sites (polyCpGs) in this focal enhancer. One polyCpG within this enhancer (polyCpG 2170) may drive variation in expression either by disrupting transcription factor binding motifs or by changing local DNA methylation and chromatin silencing. Our results contradict some assumptions made within behavioural epigenetics, but are remarkably concordant with genome-wide studies of gene regulation.