[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chromosomal region 17q12-q21 is one of the best-replicated genome-wide association study (GWAS) hits and associated with childhood-onset asthma. However, the mechanism by which the genetic association is restricted to childhood-onset disease is unclear. During childhood, more boys than girls develop asthma. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that the 17q12-q21 genetic association was sex-specific. Indeed, a TDT test showed that in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean familial collection, the 17q12-q21 association was significant among male, but not among female asthmatic subjects. We next hypothesized that the bias in the genetic association resulted from sex-specific and/or age-dependent DNA methylation at regulatory regions and determined the methylation profiles of five 17q12-q21 gene promoters using the bisulfite sequencing methylation assay. We identified a single regulatory region within the zona pellucida binding protein 2 (ZPBP2) gene, which showed statistically significant differences between males and females with respect to DNA methylation. DNA methylation also varied with age and was higher in adult males compared to boys. We have recently identified two functionally important polymorphisms, both within the ZPBP2 gene that influence expression levels of neighboring genes. Combined with the results of the present work, these data converge pointing to the same 5 kb region within the ZPBP2 gene as a critical region for both gene expression regulation and predisposition to asthma. Our data show that sex- and age-dependent DNA methylation may act as a modifier of genetic effects and influence the results of genetic association studies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methylation and DNA methyltransferases are essential for spermatogenesis. Mutations in the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1 gene exert a paternal effect on epigenetic states and phenotypes of offspring, suggesting that DNMT1 is important for the epigenetic remodeling of the genome that takes place during spermatogenesis. However, the specific role of DNMT1 in spermatogenesis and the establishment of genomic imprints in the male germ line remains elusive. To further characterize the effect of DNMT1 deficiency on the resetting of methylation imprints during spermatogenesis, we analyzed the methylation profiles of imprinted regions in the spermatozoa of mice that were heterozygous for a Dnmt1 loss-of-function mutation. The mutation did not affect the H19 or IG differentially methylated regions (DMRs) that are usually highly methylated but led to a partial hypermethylation of the Snrpn DMR, a region that should normally be unmethylated in mature spermatozoa. This defect does not appear in mouse models with mutations in Dnmt3a and Mthfr genes and, therefore, it is specific for the Dnmt1 gene and is suggestive of a role of DNMT1 in imprint resetting or maintenance in the male germ line.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenotypic variation results from variation in gene expression, which is modulated by genetic and/or epigenetic factors. To understand the molecular basis of human disease, interaction between genetic and epigenetic factors needs to be taken into account. The asthma-associated region 17q12-q21 harbors three genes, the zona pellucida binding protein 2 (ZPBP2), gasdermin B (GSDMB) and ORM1-like 3 (ORMDL3), that show allele-specific differences in expression levels in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and CD4+ T cells. Here, we report a molecular dissection of allele-specific transcriptional regulation of the genes within the chromosomal region 17q12-q21 combining in vitro transfection, formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements, chromatin immunoprecipitation and DNA methylation assays in LCLs. We found that a single nucleotide polymorphism rs4795397 influences the activity of ZPBP2 promoter in vitro in an allele-dependent fashion, and also leads to nucleosome repositioning on the asthma-associated allele. However, variable methylation of exon 1 of ZPBP2 masks the strong genetic effect on ZPBP2 promoter activity in LCLs. In contrast, the ORMDL3 promoter is fully unmethylated, which allows detection of genetic effects on its transcription. We conclude that the cis-regulatory effects on 17q12-q21 gene expression result from interaction between several regulatory polymorphisms and epigenetic factors within the cis-regulatory haplotype region.
Human Genetics 01/2012; 131(7):1161-71. · 4.63 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Common SNPs in the chromosome 17q12-q21 region alter the risk for asthma, type 1 diabetes, primary biliary cirrhosis, and Crohn disease. Previous reports by us and others have linked the disease-associated genetic variants with changes in expression of GSDMB and ORMDL3 transcripts in human lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). The variants also alter regulation of other transcripts, and this domain-wide cis-regulatory effect suggests a mechanism involving long-range chromatin interactions. Here, we further dissect the disease-linked haplotype and identify putative causal DNA variants via a combination of genetic and functional analyses. First, high-throughput resequencing of the region and genotyping of potential candidate variants were performed. Next, additional mapping of allelic expression differences in Yoruba HapMap LCLs allowed us to fine-map the basis of the cis-regulatory differences to a handful of candidate functional variants. Functional assays identified allele-specific differences in nucleosome distribution, an allele-specific association with the insulator protein CTCF, as well as a weak promoter activity for rs12936231. Overall, this study shows a common disease allele linked to changes in CTCF binding and nucleosome occupancy leading to altered domain-wide cis-regulation. Finally, a strong association between asthma and cis-regulatory haplotypes was observed in three independent family-based cohorts (p = 1.78 x 10(-8)). This study demonstrates the requirement of multiple parallel allele-specific tools for the investigation of noncoding disease variants and functional fine-mapping of human disease-associated haplotypes.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 10/2009; 85(3):377-93. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most of the known imprinted genes are assembled into clusters that share common imprinting control regions (ICRs). Non-coding transcripts are often associated with ICRs and implicated in imprinting regulation. We undertook a systematic search for transcripts originating from the Dlk1-Gtl2 intergenic region that contains the ICR for the chromosome 12 imprinted cluster and identified two overlapping transcripts expressed from opposite strands exclusively from the maternal chromosome. These novel imprinted transcripts most likely represent non-coding RNAs and are located telomeric to the IG DMR, extending the proximal boundary of the region of maternal-specific transcription. Their expression is tissue-specific and shows diurnal and circadian oscillations.Therefore, we named these novel transcripts maternal intergenic circadian oscillating 1 (Mico1) and Mico1, opposite strand (Mico1os).
Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 12/2008; 3(6):322-9. · 4.58 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transmission ratio distortion (TRD) is a deviation from the expected Mendelian 1:1 ratio of alleles transmitted from parents to offspring and may arise by different mechanisms. Earlier we described a grandparental-origin-dependent sex-of-offspring-specific TRD of maternal chromosome 12 alleles closely linked to an imprinted region and hypothesized that it resulted from imprint resetting errors in the maternal germline. Here, we report that the genotype of the parents for loss-of-function mutations in the Dnmt1 gene influences the transmission of grandparental chromosome 12 alleles. More specifically, maternal Dnmt1 mutations restore Mendelian transmission ratios of chromosome 12 alleles. Transmission of maternal alleles depends upon the presence of the Dnmt1 mutation in the mother rather than upon the Dnmt1 genotype of the offspring. Paternal transmission mirrors the maternal one: live-born offspring of wild-type fathers display 1:1 transmission ratios, whereas offspring of heterozygous Dnmt1 mutant fathers tend to inherit grandpaternal alleles. Analysis of allelic transmission in the homologous region of human chromosome 14q32 detected preferential transmission of alleles from the paternal grandfather to grandsons. Thus, parental Dnmt1 is a modifier of transmission of alleles at an unlinked chromosomal region and perhaps has a role in the genesis of TRD.