Genome-wide DNA methylation analyses in the brain reveal four differentially methylated regions between humans and non-human primates

BMC Evolutionary Biology (Impact Factor: 3.37). 08/2012; 12(1):144. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-144
Source: PubMed


The highly improved cognitive function is the most significant change in human evolutionary history. Recently, several large-scale studies reported the evolutionary roles of DNA methylation; however, the role of DNA methylation on brain evolution is largely unknown.

To test if DNA methylation has contributed to the evolution of human brain, with the use of MeDIP-Chip and SEQUENOM MassARRAY, we conducted a genome-wide analysis to identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in the brain between humans and rhesus macaques. We first identified a total of 150 candidate DMRs by the MeDIP-Chip method, among which 4 DMRs were confirmed by the MassARRAY analysis. All 4 DMRs are within or close to the CpG islands, and a MIR3 repeat element was identified in one DMR, but no repeat sequence was observed in the other 3 DMRs. For the 4 DMR genes, their proteins tend to be conserved and two genes have neural related functions. Bisulfite sequencing and phylogenetic comparison among human, chimpanzee, rhesus macaque and rat suggested several regions of lineage specific DNA methylation, including a human specific hypomethylated region in the promoter of K6IRS2 gene.

Our study provides a new angle of studying human brain evolution and understanding the evolutionary role of DNA methylation in the central nervous system. The results suggest that the patterns of DNA methylation in the brain are in general similar between humans and non-human primates, and only a few DMRs were identified.

Download full-text


Available from: Yanfeng Zhang, Jul 22, 2014
  • Source
    • "As a result, NGS systems have drastically accelerated the research involving large scale sequencing and globally researchers have now undertaken large sequencing projects involving de novo genome assembly [6]; [7]; [8] and metagenomic studies [9]; [10] for new species, resequencing [11], exome sequencing [12]; [13]; [14], transcriptome profiling [15]; [16] and methylation profiling [17]; [18]; [19] for known genomes. Since NGS technologies produce sequence as short reads and have a higher error rate (0.1–1% depending on the sequencing platform) [20]; [21], higher depth of sequencing is recommended. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a disruptive technology that has found widespread acceptance in the life sciences research community. The high throughput and low cost of sequencing has encouraged researchers to undertake ambitious genomic projects, especially in de novo genome sequencing. Currently, NGS systems generate sequence data as short reads and de novo genome assembly using these short reads is computationally very intensive. Due to lower cost of sequencing and higher throughput, NGS systems now provide the ability to sequence genomes at high depth. However, currently no report is available highlighting the impact of high sequence depth on genome assembly using real data sets and multiple assembly algorithms. Recently, some studies have evaluated the impact of sequence coverage, error rate and average read length on genome assembly using multiple assembly algorithms, however, these evaluations were performed using simulated datasets. One limitation of using simulated datasets is that variables such as error rates, read length and coverage which are known to impact genome assembly are carefully controlled. Hence, this study was undertaken to identify the minimum depth of sequencing required for de novo assembly for different sized genomes using graph based assembly algorithms and real datasets. Illumina reads for E.coli (4.6 MB) S.kudriavzevii (11.18 MB) and C.elegans (100 MB) were assembled using SOAPdenovo, Velvet, ABySS, Meraculous and IDBA-UD. Our analysis shows that 50X is the optimum read depth for assembling these genomes using all assemblers except Meraculous which requires 100X read depth. Moreover, our analysis shows that de novo assembly from 50X read data requires only 6-40 GB RAM depending on the genome size and assembly algorithm used. We believe that this information can be extremely valuable for researchers in designing experiments and multiplexing which will enable optimum utilization of sequencing as well as analysis resources.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · PLoS ONE
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Covalent modifications of nucleotides, such as methylation or hydroxymethylation of cytosine, regulate gene expression. Early environmental risk factors play a role in mental disorders in adulthood. This may be in part mediated by epigenetic DNA modifications. Methods for comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation include DNA modification methods such as bisulfite sequencing, or collection of methylated, hydroxymethylated, or unmethylated DNA by specific binding proteins, antibodies, or restriction enzymes, followed by sequencing or microarray analysis. Results from these experiments should be interpreted with caution because each method gives different result. Cytosine hydroxymethylation has different effects on gene expression than cytosine methylation; methylation of CpG islands is associated with lower gene expression, whereas hydroxymethylation in intragenic regions is associated with higher gene expression. The role of hydroxymethylcytosine is of particular interest in mental disorders because the modification is enriched in the brain and synapse related genes, and it exhibits dynamic regulation during development. Many DNA methylation patterns are conserved across species, but there are also human specific signatures. Comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation shows characteristic changes associated with tissues, brain regions, cell types, and developmental states. Thus, differences in DNA methylation status between tissues, brain regions, cell types, and developmental stages should be considered when the role of DNA methylation in mental disorders is studied. Several disease-associated changes in methylation have been reported: hypermethylation of SOX10 in schizophrenia, hypomethylation of HCG9 (HLA complex group 9) in bipolar disorder, hypermethylation of PRIMA1, hypermethylation of SLC6A4 (serotonin transporter) in bipolar disorder, and hypomethylation of ST6GALNAC1 in bipolar disorder. These findings need to be replicated in different patient populations to be generalized. Further studies including animal experiments are necessary to understand the roles of DNA methylation in mental disorders.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Neuropharmacology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: CNTNAP2, one of the largest genes in the human genome, has been linked to human-specific language abilities and neurodevelopmental disorders. Our hypothesis is that epigenetic rather than genetic changes have accelerated the evolution of the human brain. To compare the cortex DNA methylation patterns of human and chimpanzee CNTNAP2 at ultra-high resolution, we combined methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) with NimbleGen tiling arrays for the orthologous gene and flanking sequences. Approximately 1.59 Mb of the 2.51 Mb target region could be aligned and analyzed with a customized algorithm in both species. More than one fifth (0.34 Mb) of the analyzed sequence throughout the entire gene displayed significant methylation differences between six human and five chimpanzee cortices. One of the most striking interspecies differences with 28% methylation in human and 59% in chimpanzee cortex (by bisulfite pyrosequencing) lies in a region 300 bp upstream of human SNP rs7794745 which has been associated with autism and parent-of-origin effects. Quantitative real-time RT PCR revealed that the protein-coding splice variant CNTNAP2-201 is 1.6-fold upregulated in human cortex, compared with the chimpanzee. Transcripts CNTNAP2-001, -002, and -003 did not show skewed allelic expression, which argues against CNTNAP2 imprinting, at least in adult human brain. Collectively, our results suggest widespread cortex DNA methylation changes in CNTNAP2 since the human-chimpanzee split, supporting a role for CNTNAP2 fine-regulation in human-specific language and communication traits.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society
Show more