Crosstalk of Genetic Variants, Allele-Specific DNA Methylation, and Environmental Factors for Complex Disease Risk.
ABSTRACT: 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.
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: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:BACKGROUND/AIMS:Phenotypic discordance in monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs can have an epigenetic or genetic basis. Although age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has a strong genetic component, few studies have addressed its epigenetic basis. METHODS:Using SNP arrays, we evaluated differences in copy number variation (CNV) and allele-specific methylation (ASM) patterns (via methyl-sensitive restriction enzyme digestion of DNA) in MZ twin pairs from the US Twin Study of AMD. Further analyses examined the relationship between ASM and CNVs with AMD by both case/control analysis of ASM at candidate regions and by analysis of ASM and CNVs in twins discordant for AMD. RESULTS:The frequency of ASM sites differs between cases and controls in regions surrounding the AMD candidate genes CFH, C2 and CFB. While ASM patterns show a substantial dependence on local sequence polymorphisms, we observed dissimilar patterns of ASM between MZ twins. The genes closest to the sites where discordant MZ twins have dissimilar patterns of ASM are enriched for genes implicated in gliosis, a process associated with neovascular AMD. Similar twin-based analyses revealed no AMD-associated CNVs. CONCLUSIONS:Our results provide evidence of epigenetic influences beyond the known genetic susceptibility and implicate inflammatory responses and gliosis in the etiology of AMD.
Project description: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) 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:Cytokinins play important roles in the growth and development of plants. Physiological and photosynthetic characteristics are common indicators to measure the growth and development in plants. However, few reports have described the molecular mechanisms of physiological and photosynthetic changes in response to cytokinin, particularly in woody plants. DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic modification that dynamically regulates gene expression in response to the external environment. In this study, we examined genome-wide DNA methylation variation and transcriptional variation in poplar (<i>Populus tomentosa</i>) after short-term treatment with the synthetic cytokinin 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA). We identified 460 significantly differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in response to 6-BA treatment. Transcriptome analysis showed that 339 protein-coding genes, 262 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), and 15,793 24-nt small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were differentially expressed under 6-BA treatment. Among these, 79% were differentially expressed between alleles in <i>P</i>. <i>tomentosa</i>, and 102,819 allele-specific expression (ASE) loci in 19,200 genes were detected showing differences in ASE levels after 6-BA treatment. Combined DNA methylation and gene expression analysis demonstrated that DNA methylation plays an important role in regulating allele-specific gene expression. To further investigate the relationship between these 6-BA-responsive genes and phenotypic variation, we performed SNP analysis of 460 6-BA-responsive DMRs via re-sequencing using a natural population of <i>P. tomentosa,</i> and we identified 206 SNPs that were significantly associated with growth and wood properties. Association analysis indicated that 53% of loci with allele-specific expression had primarily dominant effects on poplar traits. Our comprehensive analyses of <i>P. tomentosa</i> DNA methylation and the regulation of allele-specific gene expression suggest that DNA methylation is an important regulator of imbalanced expression between allelic loci.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has an unknown etiology; however, accumulating evidence suggests that IBD is a multifactorial disease influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The influence of genetic variants on DNA methylation in cis and cis effects on expression have been demonstrated. We hypothesized that IBD susceptibility single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) regulate susceptibility gene expressions in cis by regulating DNA methylation around SNPs. For this, we determined cis-regulated allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) around IBD susceptibility genes in CD4+ effector/memory T cells (Tem) in lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs) in patients with IBD and examined the association between the ASM SNP genotype and neighboring susceptibility gene expressions. METHODS:CD4+ effector/memory T cells (Tem) were isolated from LPMCs in 15 Japanese IBD patients (ten Crohn's disease [CD] and five ulcerative colitis [UC] patients). ASM analysis was performed by methylation-sensitive SNP array analysis. We defined ASM as a changing average relative allele score ([Formula: see text]) >0.1 after digestion by methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes. Among SNPs showing [Formula: see text] >0.1, we extracted the probes located on tag-SNPs of 200 IBD susceptibility loci and around IBD susceptibility genes as candidate ASM SNPs. To validate ASM, bisulfite-pyrosequencing was performed. Transcriptome analysis was examined in 11 IBD patients (seven CD and four UC patients). The relation between rs36221701 genotype and neighboring gene expressions were analyzed. RESULTS:We extracted six candidate ASM SNPs around IBD susceptibility genes. The top of [Formula: see text] (0.23) was rs1130368 located on HLA-DQB1. ASM around rs36221701 ([Formula: see text] = 0.14) located near SMAD3 was validated using bisulfite pyrosequencing. The SMAD3 expression was significantly associated with the rs36221701 genotype (p = 0.016). CONCLUSIONS:We confirmed the existence of cis-regulated ASM around IBD susceptibility genes and the association between ASM SNP (rs36221701) genotype and SMAD3 expression, a susceptibility gene for IBD. These results give us supporting evidence that DNA methylation mediates genetic effects on disease susceptibility.
Project description:Numerous recent studies have suggested that phenotypic effects of DNA sequence variants can be mediated or modulated by their epigenetic marks, such as allele-skewed DNA modification (ASM). Using Affymetrix SNP microarrays, we performed a comprehensive search of ASM effects in human post-mortem brain and sperm samples (total n = 256) from individuals with major psychosis and control individuals. Depending on the phenotypic category of the brain samples, 1.4%-7.5% of interrogated SNPs exhibited ASM effects. Next, we investigated ASM in the context of genetic studies of schizophrenia and detected that brain ASM SNPs were significantly overrepresented among sub-threshold SNPs from a schizophrenia genome-wide association study (GWAS). Brain ASM SNPs showed a much stronger enrichment in a schizophrenia GWAS than in 17 large GWASs of non-psychiatric diseases and traits, arguing that ASM effects are at least partially tissue specific. Studies of germline and control brain ASM SNPs supported a causal association between ASM and schizophrenia. Finally, significantly higher proportions of ASM SNPs than of non-ASM SNPs were detected at loci exhibiting epigenetic signatures of enhancers and promoters, and they were overrepresented within transcription factor binding regions and DNase I hypersensitive sites. All of these findings collectively indicate that ASM SNPs should be prioritized in follow-up GWASs.
Project description:Allele-specific expression (ASE) assays can be used to identify cis, trans, and cis-by-trans regulatory variation. Understanding the source of expression variation has important implications for disease susceptibility, phenotypic diversity, and adaptation. While ASE is commonly measured via relative fluorescence at a SNP, next generation sequencing provides an opportunity to measure ASE in an accurate and high-throughput manner using read counts.We introduce a Solexa-based method to perform large numbers of ASE assays using only a single lane of a Solexa flowcell. In brief, transcripts of interest, which contain a known SNP, are PCR enriched and barcoded to enable multiplexing. Then high-throughput sequencing is used to estimate allele-specific expression using sequencing counts. To validate this method, we measured the allelic bias in a dilution series and found high correlations between measured and expected values (r>0.9, p < 0.001). We applied this method to a set of 5 genes in a Drosophila simulans parental mix, F1 and introgression and found that for these genes the majority of expression divergence can be explained by cis-regulatory variation.We present a new method with the capacity to measure ASE for large numbers of assays using as little as one lane of a Solexa flowcell. This will be a valuable technique for molecular and population genetic studies, as well as for verification of genome-wide data sets.
Project description:To identify genes that are regulated by cis-acting functional elements in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) we determined the allele-specific expression (ASE) levels of 2, 529 genes by genotyping a genome-wide panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms in RNA and DNA from bone marrow and blood samples of 197 children with ALL. Using a reproducible, quantitative genotyping method and stringent criteria for scoring ASE, we found that 16% of the analyzed genes display ASE in multiple ALL cell samples. For most of the genes, the level of ASE varied largely between the samples, from 1.4-fold overexpression of one allele to apparent monoallelic expression. For genes exhibiting ASE, 55% displayed bidirectional ASE in which overexpression of either of the two SNP alleles occurred. For bidirectional ASE we also observed overall higher levels of ASE and correlation with the methylation level of these sites. Our results demonstrate that CpG site methylation is one of the factors that regulates gene expression in ALL cells.