Article

Characterization of DNA hypermethylation in the cerebellum of c9FTD/ALS patients

Department of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32224, USA.
Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.83). 10/2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.02.015

ABSTRACT A significant portion of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), two diseases commonly seen in comorbidity, carry an expanded noncoding hexanucleotide repeat in the C9orf72 gene, a condition collectively referred to as c9FTD/ALS. Repeat expansions, also present in other neurodegenerative diseases, have been shown to alter epigenetic mechanisms and consequently lead to decreased gene expression, while also leading to toxic RNA gain-of-function. As expression of multiple C9orf72 transcript variants is known to be reduced in c9FTD/ALS cases, our group and others have sought to uncover the mechanisms causing this reduction. We recently demonstrated that histones H3 and H4 undergo trimethylation at lysines 9 (H3K9), 27 (H3K27), 79 (H3K79), and 20 (H4K20) in all pathogenic repeat carrier brain samples, confirming the role of altered histone methylation in disease. It was also reported that about 40% of c9ALS cases show hypermethylation of the CpG island located at the 5′ end of the repeat expansion in blood, frontal cortex, and spinal cord. To determine whether the same CpG island is hypermethylated in the cerebella of cases in whom aberrant histone methylation has been identified, we bisulfitemodified the extracted DNA and PCR-amplified 26 CpG sites within the C9orf72 promoter region. Among the ten c9FTD/ALS (4 c9ALS, 6 c9FTD), nine FTD/ALS, and eight disease control samples evaluated, only one c9FTD sample was found to be hypermethylated within the C9orf72 promoter region. This study is the first to report cerebellar hypermethylation in c9FTD/ALS, and the first to identify a c9FTD patient with aberrant DNA methylation. Future studies will need to evaluate hypermethylation of the C9orf72 promoter in a larger cohort of c9FTD patients, and to assess whether DNA methylation variation across brain regions reflects disease phenotype.

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    ABSTRACT: C9orf72 promoter hypermethylation inhibits the accumulation of pathologies which have been postulated to be neurotoxic. We tested here whether C9orf72 hypermethylation is associated with prolonged disease in C9orf72 mutation carriers. C9orf72 methylation was quantified from brain or blood using methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme digest-qPCR in a cross-sectional cohort of 118 C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers and 19 non-carrier family members. Multivariate regression models were used to determine whether C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with age at onset, disease duration, age at death, or hexanucleotide repeat expansion size. Permutation analysis was performed to determine whether C9orf72 methylation is heritable. We observed a high correlation between C9orf72 methylation across tissues including cerebellum, frontal cortex, spinal cord and peripheral blood. While C9orf72 methylation was not significantly different between ALS and FTD and did not predict age at onset, brain and blood C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with later age at death in FTD (brain: β = 0.18, p = 0.006; blood: β = 0.15, p < 0.001), and blood C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with longer disease duration in FTD (β = 0.03, p = 0.007). Furthermore, C9orf72 hypermethylation was associated with smaller hexanucleotide repeat length (β = -16.69, p = 0.033). Finally, analysis of pedigrees with multiple mutation carriers demonstrated a significant association between C9orf72 methylation and family relatedness (p < 0.0001). C9orf72 hypermethylation is associated with prolonged disease in C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers with FTD. The attenuated clinical phenotype associated with C9orf72 hypermethylation suggests that slower clinical progression in FTD is associated with reduced expression of mutant C9orf72. These results support the hypothesis that expression of the hexanucleotide repeat expansion is associated with a toxic gain of function.
    Acta Neuropathologica 11/2014; · 9.78 Impact Factor

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May 20, 2014