A genome-wide screen in human embryonic stem cells reveals novel sites of allele-specific histone modification associated with known disease loci.
ABSTRACT: Chromatin structure at a given site can differ between chromosome copies in a cell, and such imbalances in chromatin structure have been shown to be important in understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling several disease loci. Human genetic variation, DNA methylation, and disease have been intensely studied, uncovering many sites of allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM). However, little is known about the genome-wide occurrence of sites of allele-specific histone modification (ASHM) and their relationship to human disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent and characteristics of sites of ASHM in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).Using a statistically rigorous protocol, we investigated the genomic distribution of ASHM in hESCs, and their relationship to sites of allele-specific expression (ASE) and DNA methylation. We found that, although they were rare, sites of ASHM were substantially enriched at loci displaying ASE. Many were also found at known imprinted regions, hence sites of ASHM are likely to be better markers of imprinted regions than sites of ASM. We also found that sites of ASHM and ASE in hESCs colocalize at risk loci for developmental syndromes mediated by deletions, providing insights into the etiology of these disorders.These results demonstrate the potential importance of ASHM patterns in the interpretation of disease loci, and the protocol described provides a basis for similar studies of ASHM in other cell types to further our understanding of human disease susceptibility.
Project description:Allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) and allele-specific gene expression (ASE) have long been studied in genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. But these types of allelic asymmetries, along with allele-specific transcription factor binding (ASTF), have turned out to be far more pervasive-affecting many non-imprinted autosomal genes in normal human tissues. ASM, ASE and ASTF have now been mapped genome-wide by microarray-based methods and NextGen sequencing. Multiple studies agree that all three types of allelic asymmetries, as well as the related phenomena of expression and methylation quantitative trait loci, are mostly accounted for by cis-acting regulatory polymorphisms. The precise mechanisms by which this occurs are not yet understood, but there are some testable hypotheses and already a few direct clues. Future challenges include achieving higher resolution maps to locate the epicenters of cis-regulated ASM, using this information to test mechanistic models, and applying genome-wide maps of ASE/ASM/ASTF to pinpoint functional regulatory polymorphisms influencing disease susceptibility.
Project description:Allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) is well studied in imprinted domains, but this type of epigenetic asymmetry is actually found more commonly at non-imprinted loci, where the ASM is dictated not by parent-of-origin but instead by the local haplotype. We identified loci with strong ASM in human tissues from methylation-sensitive SNP array data. Two index regions (bisulfite PCR amplicons), one between the C3orf27 and RPN1 genes in chromosome band 3q21 and the other near the VTRNA2-1 vault RNA in band 5q31, proved to be new examples of imprinted DMRs (maternal alleles methylated) while a third, between STEAP3 and C2orf76 in chromosome band 2q14, showed non-imprinted haplotype-dependent ASM. Using long-read bisulfite sequencing (bis-seq) in 8 human tissues we found that in all 3 domains the ASM is restricted to single differentially methylated regions (DMRs), each less than 2kb. The ASM in the C3orf27-RPN1 intergenic region was placenta-specific and associated with allele-specific expression of a long non-coding RNA. Strikingly, the discrete DMRs in all 3 regions overlap with binding sites for the insulator protein CTCF, which we found selectively bound to the unmethylated allele of the STEAP3-C2orf76 DMR. Methylation mapping in two additional genes with non-imprinted haplotype-dependent ASM, ELK3 and CYP2A7, showed that the CYP2A7 DMR also overlaps a CTCF site. Thus, two features of imprinted domains, highly localized DMRs and allele-specific insulator occupancy by CTCF, can also be found in chromosomal domains with non-imprinted ASM. Arguing for biological importance, our analysis of published whole genome bis-seq data from hES cells revealed multiple genome-wide association study (GWAS) peaks near CTCF binding sites with ASM.
Project description:While DNA methylation is usually thought to be symmetrical across both alleles, there are some notable exceptions. Genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation are two well-studied sources of allele-specific methylation (ASM), but recent research has indicated a more complex pattern in which genotypic variation can be associated with allelically-skewed DNA methylation in cis. Given the known heterogeneity of DNA methylation across tissues and cell types we explored inter- and intra-individual variation in ASM across several regions of the human brain and whole blood from multiple individuals. Consistent with previous studies, we find widespread ASM with > 4% of the ?220,000 loci interrogated showing evidence of allelically-skewed DNA methylation. We identify ASM flanking known imprinted regions, and show that ASM sites are enriched in DNase I hypersensitivity sites and often located in an extended genomic context of intermediate DNA methylation. We also detect examples of genotype-driven ASM, some of which are tissue-specific. These findings contribute to our understanding of the nature of differential DNA methylation across tissues and have important implications for genetic studies of complex disease. As a resource to the community, ASM patterns across each of the tissues studied are available in a searchable online database: http://epigenetics.essex.ac.uk/ASMBrainBlood.
Project description:We previously identified sequence-dependent allele-specific methylation (sd-ASM) in adult human peripheral blood leukocytes, in which ASM occurs in cis depending on adjacent polymorphic sequences. A number of groups have identified sd-ASM sites in the human and mouse genomes, illustrating the prevalence of sd-ASM in mammalian genomes. In addition, sd-ASM can lead to sequence-dependent allele-specific expression of neighbouring genes. Imprinted genes also often exhibit parent-of-origin-dependent allele-specific methylation (pd-ASM), which causes parent-of-origin-dependent allele-specific expression. However, whether most of the already known sd-ASM and pd-ASM sites are methylated or hydroxymethylated remains unclear due to technical restrictions. Accordingly, a novel method that enables examination of allelic methylation and hydroxymethylation status and also overcomes the drawbacks of conventional methods is needed. Such a method could also be used to elucidate the mechanisms underlying polymorphism-associated inter-individual differences in disease susceptibility and the mechanism of genomic imprinting. Here, we developed a simple method to determine allelic hydroxymethylation status and identified novel sequence- and parent-of-origin-dependent allele-specific hydroxymethylation sites. Correlation analyses of TF binding sequences and methylation or hydroxymethylation between three mouse strains revealed the involvement of Pax5 in strain-specific methylation and hydroxymethylation in exon 7 of Pdgfrb.
Project description:It is now widely accepted that allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) commonly occurs at non-imprinted loci. Most of the non-imprinted ASM regions observed both within and outside of the CpG island show a strong correlation with DNA polymorphisms. However, what polymorphic cis-acting elements mediate non-imprinted ASM of the CpG island remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the impact of polymorphic GT microsatellites within the gene promoter on non-imprinted ASM of the local CpG island in goldfish. We generated various goldfish heterozygotes, in which the length of GT microsatellites or some non-repetitive sequences in the promoter of no tail alleles was different. By examining the methylation status of the downstream CpG island in these heterozygotes, we found that polymorphisms of a long GT microsatellite can lead to the ASM of the downstream CpG island during oogenesis and embryogenesis, polymorphisms of short GT microsatellites and non-repetitive sequences in the promoter exhibited no significant effect on the methylation of the CpG island. We also observed that the ASM of the CpG island was associated with allele-specific expression in heterozygous embryos. These results suggest that a long polymorphic GT microsatellite within a gene promoter mediates non-imprinted ASM of the local CpG island in a goldfish inter-strain hybrid.
Project description:Cancer is as much an epigenetic disease as a genetic one; however, the interplay between these two processes is unclear. Recently, it has been shown that a large proportion of DNA methylation variability can be explained by allele-specific methylation (ASM), either at classical imprinted loci or those regulated by underlying genetic variants. During a recent screen for imprinted differentially methylated regions, we identified the genomic interval overlapping the non-coding nc886 RNA (previously known as vtRNA2-1) as an atypical ASM that shows variable levels of methylation, predominantly on the maternal allele in many tissues. Here we show that the nc886 interval is the first example of a polymorphic imprinted DMR in humans. Further analysis of the region suggests that the interval subjected to ASM is approximately 2 kb in size and somatically acquired. An in depth analysis of this region in primary cancer samples with matching normal adjacent tissue from the Cancer Genome Atlas revealed that aberrant methylation in bladder, breast, colon and lung tumors occurred in approximately 27% of cases. Hypermethylation occurred more frequently than hypomethylation. Using additional normal-tumor paired samples we show that on rare occasions the aberrant methylation profile is due to loss-of-heterozygosity. This work therefore suggests that the nc886 locus is subject to variable allelic methylation that undergoes cancer-associated epigenetic changes in solid tumors.
Project description:DNA methylation is assumed to be complementary on both alleles across the genome, although there are exceptions, notably in regions subject to genomic imprinting. We present a genome-wide survey of the degree of allelic skewing of DNA methylation with the aim of identifying previously unreported differentially methylated regions (DMRs) associated primarily with genomic imprinting or DNA sequence variation acting in cis. We used SNP microarrays to quantitatively assess allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) in amplicons covering 7.6% of the human genome following cleavage with a cocktail of methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes (MSREs). Selected findings were verified using bisulfite-mapping and gene-expression analyses, subsequently tested in a second tissue from the same individuals, and replicated in DNA obtained from 30 parent-child trios. Our approach detected clear examples of ASM in the vicinity of known imprinted loci, highlighting the validity of the method. In total, 2,704 (1.5%) of our 183,605 informative and stringently filtered SNPs demonstrate an average relative allele score (RAS) change > or =0.10 following MSRE digestion. In agreement with previous reports, the majority of ASM ( approximately 90%) appears to be cis in nature, and several examples of tissue-specific ASM were identified. Our data show that ASM is a widespread phenomenon, with >35,000 such sites potentially occurring across the genome, and that a spectrum of ASM is likely, with heterogeneity between individuals and across tissues. These findings impact our understanding about the origin of individual phenotypic differences and have implications for genetic studies of complex disease.
Project description:Differential methylation of the two parental genomes in placental mammals is essential for genomic imprinting and embryogenesis. To systematically study this epigenetic process, we have generated a base-resolution, allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) map in the mouse genome. We find parent-of-origin dependent (imprinted) ASM at 1,952 CG dinucleotides. These imprinted CGs form 55 discrete clusters including virtually all known germline differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and 23 previously unknown DMRs, with some occurring at microRNA genes. We also identify sequence-dependent ASM at 131,765 CGs. Interestingly, methylation at these sites exhibits a strong dependence on the immediate adjacent bases, allowing us to define a conserved sequence preference for the mammalian DNA methylation machinery. Finally, we report a surprising presence of non-CG methylation in the adult mouse brain, with some showing evidence of imprinting. Our results provide a resource for understanding the mechanisms of imprinting and allele-specific gene expression in mammalian cells.
Project description:DNA methylation plays an important role in biological processes in human health and disease. Recent technological advances allow unbiased whole-genome DNA methylation (methylome) analysis to be carried out on human cells. Using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing at 24.7-fold coverage (12.3-fold per strand), we report a comprehensive (92.62%) methylome and analysis of the unique sequences in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from the same Asian individual whose genome was deciphered in the YH project. PBMC constitute an important source for clinical blood tests world-wide. We found that 68.4% of CpG sites and <0.2% of non-CpG sites were methylated, demonstrating that non-CpG cytosine methylation is minor in human PBMC. Analysis of the PBMC methylome revealed a rich epigenomic landscape for 20 distinct genomic features, including regulatory, protein-coding, non-coding, RNA-coding, and repeat sequences. Integration of our methylome data with the YH genome sequence enabled a first comprehensive assessment of allele-specific methylation (ASM) between the two haploid methylomes of any individual and allowed the identification of 599 haploid differentially methylated regions (hDMRs) covering 287 genes. Of these, 76 genes had hDMRs within 2 kb of their transcriptional start sites of which >80% displayed allele-specific expression (ASE). These data demonstrate that ASM is a recurrent phenomenon and is highly correlated with ASE in human PBMCs. Together with recently reported similar studies, our study provides a comprehensive resource for future epigenomic research and confirms new sequencing technology as a paradigm for large-scale epigenomics studies.
Project description:Over the past decades, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified thousands of phenotype-associated DNA sequence variants for potential explanations of inter-individual phenotypic differences and disease susceptibility. However, it remains a challenge for translating the associations into causative mechanisms for complex diseases, partially due to the involved variants in the noncoding regions and the inconvenience of functional studies in human population samples. So far, accumulating evidence has suggested a complex crosstalk among genetic variants, allele-specific binding of transcription factors (ABTF), and allele-specific DNA methylation patterns (ASM), as well as environmental factors for disease risk. This review aims to summarize the current studies regarding the interactions of the aforementioned factors with a focus on epigenetic insights. We present two scenarios of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in coding regions and non-coding regions for disease risk, via potentially impacting epigenetic patterns. While a SNP in a coding region may confer disease risk via altering protein functions, a SNP in non-coding region may cause diseases, via SNP-altering ABTF, ASM, and allele-specific gene expression (ASE). The allelic increases or decreases of gene expression are key for disease risk during development. Such ASE can be achieved via either a "SNP-introduced ABTF to ASM" or a "SNP-introduced ASM to ABTF." Together with our additional in-depth review on insulator CTCF, we are convinced to propose a working model that the small effect of a SNP acts through altered ABTF and/or ASM, for ASE and eventual disease outcome (named as a "SNP intensifier" model). In summary, the significance of complex crosstalk among genetic factors, epigenetic patterns, and environmental factors requires further investigations for disease susceptibility.