Browsing by Subject "DNA methylation"

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  • Kahila, Hanna; Marjonen, Heidi; Auvinen, Pauliina; Avela, Kristiina; Riikonen, Raili; Kaminen-Ahola, Nina (2020)
    Abstract Background A pair of dizygotic twins discordantly affected by heavy prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) was reported previously by Riikonen, suggesting the role of genetic risk or protective factors in the etiology of alcohol-induced developmental disorders. Now, we have re-examined these 25-year-old twins and explored genetic origin of the phenotypic discordancy reminiscent with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Furthermore, we explored alterations in DNA methylation profile of imprinting control region at growth-related insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2)/H19 locus in twins' white blood cells (WBC), which have been associated earlier with alcohol-induced genotype-specific changes in placental tissue. Methods Microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) was used to detect potential submicroscopic chromosomal abnormalities, and developmental as well as phenotypic information about twins were collected. Traditional bisulfite sequencing was used for DNA methylation analysis. Results Microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization revealed a microdeletion 18q12.3-q21.1. in affected twin, residing in a known 18q deletion syndrome region. This syndrome has been associated with growth restriction, developmental delay or intellectual deficiency, and abnormal facial features in previous studies, and thus likely explains the phenotypic discordancy between the twins. We did not observe association between WBCs? DNA methylation profile and PAE, but interestingly, a trend of decreased DNA methylation at the imprinting control region was seen in the twin with prenatal growth retardation at birth. Conclusions The microdeletion emphasizes the importance of adequate chromosomal testing in examining the etiology of complex alcohol-induced developmental disorders. Furthermore, the genotype-specific decreased DNA methylation at the IGF2/H19 locus cannot be considered as a biological mark for PAE in adult WBCs.
  • Haftorn, Kristine L; Lee, Yunsung; Denault, William R P; Page, Christian M; Nustad, Haakon E; Lyle, Robert; Gjessing, Håkon K; Malmberg, Anni; Magnus, Maria C; Næss, Øyvind; Czamara, Darina; Räikkönen, Katri; Lahti, Jari; Magnus, Per; Håberg, Siri E; Jugessur, Astanand; Bohlin, Jon (BioMed Central, 2021)
    Abstract Background Gestational age is a useful proxy for assessing developmental maturity, but correct estimation of gestational age is difficult using clinical measures. DNA methylation at birth has proven to be an accurate predictor of gestational age. Previous predictors of epigenetic gestational age were based on DNA methylation data from the Illumina HumanMethylation 27 K or 450 K array, which have subsequently been replaced by the Illumina MethylationEPIC 850 K array (EPIC). Our aims here were to build an epigenetic gestational age clock specific for the EPIC array and to evaluate its precision and accuracy using the embryo transfer date of newborns from the largest EPIC-derived dataset to date on assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Methods We built an epigenetic gestational age clock using Lasso regression trained on 755 randomly selected non-ART newborns from the Norwegian Study of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (START)—a substudy of the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). For the ART-conceived newborns, the START dataset had detailed information on the embryo transfer date and the specific ART procedure used for conception. The predicted gestational age was compared to clinically estimated gestational age in 200 non-ART and 838 ART newborns using MM-type robust regression. The performance of the clock was compared to previously published gestational age clocks in an independent replication sample of 148 newborns from the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restrictions (PREDO) study—a prospective pregnancy cohort of Finnish women. Results Our new epigenetic gestational age clock showed higher precision and accuracy in predicting gestational age than previous gestational age clocks (R2 = 0.724, median absolute deviation (MAD) = 3.14 days). Restricting the analysis to CpGs shared between 450 K and EPIC did not reduce the precision of the clock. Furthermore, validating the clock on ART newborns with known embryo transfer date confirmed that DNA methylation is an accurate predictor of gestational age (R2 = 0.767, MAD = 3.7 days). Conclusions We present the first EPIC-based predictor of gestational age and demonstrate its robustness and precision in ART and non-ART newborns. As more datasets are being generated on the EPIC platform, this clock will be valuable in studies using gestational age to assess neonatal development.
  • Knight, Anna K.; Craig, Jeffrey M.; Theda, Christiane; Baekvad-Hansen, Marie; Bybjerg-Grauholm, Jonas; Hansen, Christine S.; Hollegaard, Mads V.; Hougaard, David M.; Mortensen, Preben B.; Weinsheimer, Shantel M.; Werge, Thomas M.; Brennan, Patricia A.; Cubells, Joseph F.; Newport, D. Jeffrey; Stowe, Zachary N.; Cheong, Jeanie L. Y.; Dalach, Philippa; Doyle, Lex W.; Loke, Yuk J.; Baccarelli, Andrea A.; Just, Allan C.; Wright, Robert O.; Tellez-Rojo, Mara M.; Svensson, Katherine; Trevisi, Letizia; Kennedy, Elizabeth M.; Binder, Elisabeth B.; Iurato, Stella; Räikkönen, Katri; Lahti, Jari M. T.; Pesonen, Anu-Katriina; Kajantie, Eero; Villa, Pia M.; Laivuori, Hannele; Hämäläinen, Esa; Park, Hea Jin; Bailey, Lynn B.; Parets, Sasha E.; Kilaru, Varun; Menon, Ramkumar; Horvath, Steve; Bush, Nicole R.; LeWinn, Kaja Z.; Tylavsky, Frances A.; Conneely, Karen N.; Smith, Alicia K. (2016)
    Background: Gestational age is often used as a proxy for developmental maturity by clinicians and researchers alike. DNA methylation has previously been shown to be associated with age and has been used to accurately estimate chronological age in children and adults. In the current study, we examine whether DNA methylation in cord blood can be used to estimate gestational age at birth. Results: We find that gestational age can be accurately estimated from DNA methylation of neonatal cord blood and blood spot samples. We calculate a DNA methylation gestational age using 148 CpG sites selected through elastic net regression in six training datasets. We evaluate predictive accuracy in nine testing datasets and find that the accuracy of the DNA methylation gestational age is consistent with that of gestational age estimates based on established methods, such as ultrasound. We also find that an increased DNA methylation gestational age relative to clinical gestational age is associated with birthweight independent of gestational age, sex, and ancestry. Conclusions: DNA methylation can be used to accurately estimate gestational age at or near birth and may provide additional information relevant to developmental stage. Further studies of this predictor are warranted to determine its utility in clinical settings and for research purposes. When clinical estimates are available this measure may increase accuracy in the testing of hypotheses related to developmental age and other early life circumstances.
  • Hannon, Eilis; Dempster, Emma; Viana, Joana; Burrage, Joe; Smith, Adam R.; Macdonald, Ruby; St Clair, David; Mustard, Colette; Breen, Gerome; Therman, Sebastian; Kaprio, Jaakko; Toulopoulou, Timothea; Pol, Hilleke E. Hulshoff; Bohlken, Marc M.; Kahn, Rene S.; Nenadic, Igor; Hultman, Christina M.; Murray, Robin M.; Collier, David A.; Bass, Nick; Gurling, Hugh; McQuillin, Andrew; Schalkwyk, Leonard; Mill, Jonathan (2016)
    Background: Schizophrenia is a highly heritable, neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by episodic psychosis and altered cognitive function. Despite success in identifying genetic variants associated with schizophrenia, there remains uncertainty about the causal genes involved in disease pathogenesis and how their function is regulated. Results: We performed a multi-stage epigenome-wide association study, quantifying genome-wide patterns of DNA methylation in a total of 1714 individuals from three independent sample cohorts. We have identified multiple differentially methylated positions and regions consistently associated with schizophrenia across the three cohorts; these effects are independent of important confounders such as smoking. We also show that epigenetic variation at multiple loci across the genome contributes to the polygenic nature of schizophrenia. Finally, we show how DNA methylation quantitative trait loci in combination with Bayesian co-localization analyses can be used to annotate extended genomic regions nominated by studies of schizophrenia, and to identify potential regulatory variation causally involved in disease. Conclusions: This study represents the first systematic integrated analysis of genetic and epigenetic variation in schizophrenia, introducing a methodological approach that can be used to inform epigenome-wide association study analyses of other complex traits and diseases. We demonstrate the utility of using a polygenic risk score to identify molecular variation associated with etiological variation, and of using DNA methylation quantitative trait loci to refine the functional and regulatory variation associated with schizophrenia risk variants. Finally, we present strong evidence for the co-localization of genetic associations for schizophrenia and differential DNA methylation.
  • Haider, Zahra; Larsson, Pär; Landfors, Mattias; Köhn, Linda; Schmiegelow, Kjeld; Flægstad, Trond; Kanerva, Jukka; Heyman, Mats; Hultdin, Magnus; Degerman, Sofie (2019)
    Classification of pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients into CIMP (CpG Island Methylator Phenotype) subgroups has the potential to improve current risk stratification. To investigate the biology behind these CIMP subgroups, diagnostic samples from Nordic pediatric T-ALL patients were characterized by genome-wide methylation arrays, followed by targeted exome sequencing, telomere length measurement, and RNA sequencing. The CIMP subgroups did not correlate significantly with variations in epigenetic regulators. However, the CIMP+ subgroup, associated with better prognosis, showed indicators of longer replicative history, including shorter telomere length (P = 0.015) and older epigenetic (P <0.001) and mitotic age (P <0.001). Moreover, the CIMP+ subgroup had significantly higher expression of ANTP homeobox oncogenes, namely TLX3, HOXA9, HOXA10, and NKX2-1, and novel genes in T-ALL biology including PLCB4, PLXND1, and MYO18B. The CIMP- subgroup, with worse prognosis, was associated with higher expression of TAL1 along with frequent STIL-TAL1 fusions (2/40 in CIMP+ vs 11/24 in CIMP-), as well as stronger expression of BEX1. Altogether, our findings suggest different routes for leukemogenic transformation in the T-ALL CIMP subgroups, indicated by different replicative histories and distinct methylomic and transcriptomic profiles. These novel findings can lead to new therapeutic strategies.
  • Haliloglu, Kamil; Hosseinpour, Arash; Cinisli, Kağan Tolga; Ozturk, Halil Ibrahim; Ozkan, Guller; Pour-Aboughadareh, Alireza; Poczai, Péter (2020)
    Salinity is an edaphic stress that dramatically restricts worldwide crop production. Nanomaterials and plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) are currently used to alleviate the negative effects of various stresses on plant growth and development. This study investigates the protective effects of different levels of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) (0, 20, and 40 mg L-1) and PGPBs (no bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus casei, Bacillus pumilus) on DNA damage and cytosine methylation changes in the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L. 'Linda') seedlings under salinity stress (250 mM NaCl). Coupled Restriction Enzyme Digestion-Random Amplification (CRED-RA) and Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) approaches were used to analyze changes in cytosine methylation and to determine how genotoxic effects influence genomic stability. Salinity stress increased the polymorphism rate assessed by RAPD, while PGPB and ZnO-NPs reduced the adverse effects of salinity stress. Genomic template stability was increased by the PGPBs and ZnO-NPs application; this increase was significant when Lactobacillus casei and 40 mg L-1 of ZnO-NPs were used.A decreased level of DNA methylation was observed in all treatments. Taken together, the use of PGPB and ZnO-NPs had a general positive effect under salinity stress reducing genetic impairment in tomato seedlings.
  • Perrier, F.; Viallon, V.; Ambatipudi, S.; Ghantous, A.; Cuenin, C.; Hernandez-Vargas, H.; Chajes, V.; Baglietto, L.; Matejcic, M.; Moreno-Macias, H.; Kühn, T.; Boeing, H.; Karakatsani, A.; Kotanidou, A.; Trichopoulou, A.; Sieri, S.; Panico, S.; Fasanelli, F.; Dolle, M.; Onland-Moret, C.; Sluijs, I.; Weiderpass, E.; Quiros, J. R.; Agudo, A.; Huerta, J. M.; Ardanaz, E.; Dorronsoro, M.; Tong, T. Y. N.; Tsilidis, K.; Riboli, E.; Gunter, M. J.; Herceg, Z.; Ferrari, P.; Romieu, I. (2019)
    BackgroundThere is increasing evidence that folate, an important component of one-carbon metabolism, modulates the epigenome. Alcohol, which can disrupt folate absorption, is also known to affect the epigenome. We investigated the association of dietary folate and alcohol intake on leukocyte DNA methylation levels in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Leukocyte genome-wide DNA methylation profiles on approximately 450,000 CpG sites were acquired with Illumina HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip measured among 450 women control participants of a case-control study on breast cancer nested within the EPIC cohort. After data preprocessing using surrogate variable analysis to reduce systematic variation, associations of DNA methylation with dietary folate and alcohol intake, assessed with dietary questionnaires, were investigated using CpG site-specific linear models. Specific regions of the methylome were explored using differentially methylated region (DMR) analysis and fused lasso (FL) regressions. The DMR analysis combined results from the feature-specific analysis for a specific chromosome and using distances between features as weights whereas FL regression combined two penalties to encourage sparsity of single features and the difference between two consecutive features.ResultsAfter correction for multiple testing, intake of dietary folate was not associated with methylation level at any DNA methylation site, while weak associations were observed between alcohol intake and methylation level at CpG sites cg03199996 and cg07382687, with q(val)=0.029 and q(val)=0.048, respectively. Interestingly, the DMR analysis revealed a total of 24 and 90 regions associated with dietary folate and alcohol, respectively. For alcohol intake, 6 of the 15 most significant DMRs were identified through FL.ConclusionsAlcohol intake was associated with methylation levels at two CpG sites. Evidence from DMR and FL analyses indicated that dietary folate and alcohol intake may be associated with genomic regions with tumor suppressor activity such as the GSDMD and HOXA5 genes. These results were in line with the hypothesis that epigenetic mechanisms play a role in the association between folate and alcohol, although further studies are warranted to clarify the importance of these mechanisms in cancer.
  • Perrier, F.; Viallon, V.; Ambatipudi, S.; Ghantous, A.; Cuenin, C.; Hernandez-Vargas, H.; Chajès, V.; Baglietto, L.; Matejcic, M.; Moreno-Macias, H.; Kühn, T.; Boeing, H.; Karakatsani, A.; Kotanidou, A.; Trichopoulou, A.; Sieri, S.; Panico, S.; Fasanelli, F.; Dolle, M.; Onland-Moret, C.; Sluijs, I.; Weiderpass, E.; Quirós, J. R; Agudo, A.; Huerta, J. M; Ardanaz, E.; Dorronsoro, M.; Tong, T. Y. N.; Tsilidis, K.; Riboli, E.; Gunter, M. J; Herceg, Z.; Ferrari, P.; Romieu, I. (BioMed Central, 2019)
    Abstract Background There is increasing evidence that folate, an important component of one-carbon metabolism, modulates the epigenome. Alcohol, which can disrupt folate absorption, is also known to affect the epigenome. We investigated the association of dietary folate and alcohol intake on leukocyte DNA methylation levels in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Leukocyte genome-wide DNA methylation profiles on approximately 450,000 CpG sites were acquired with Illumina HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip measured among 450 women control participants of a case-control study on breast cancer nested within the EPIC cohort. After data preprocessing using surrogate variable analysis to reduce systematic variation, associations of DNA methylation with dietary folate and alcohol intake, assessed with dietary questionnaires, were investigated using CpG site-specific linear models. Specific regions of the methylome were explored using differentially methylated region (DMR) analysis and fused lasso (FL) regressions. The DMR analysis combined results from the feature-specific analysis for a specific chromosome and using distances between features as weights whereas FL regression combined two penalties to encourage sparsity of single features and the difference between two consecutive features. Results After correction for multiple testing, intake of dietary folate was not associated with methylation level at any DNA methylation site, while weak associations were observed between alcohol intake and methylation level at CpG sites cg03199996 and cg07382687, with qval = 0.029 and qval = 0.048, respectively. Interestingly, the DMR analysis revealed a total of 24 and 90 regions associated with dietary folate and alcohol, respectively. For alcohol intake, 6 of the 15 most significant DMRs were identified through FL. Conclusions Alcohol intake was associated with methylation levels at two CpG sites. Evidence from DMR and FL analyses indicated that dietary folate and alcohol intake may be associated with genomic regions with tumor suppressor activity such as the GSDMD and HOXA5 genes. These results were in line with the hypothesis that epigenetic mechanisms play a role in the association between folate and alcohol, although further studies are warranted to clarify the importance of these mechanisms in cancer.
  • Czamara, Darina; Dieckmann, Linda; Roeh, Simone; Kraemer, Sarah; Rancourt, Rebecca C.; Sammallahti, Sara; Kajantie, Eero; Laivuori, Hannele; Eriksson, Johan G.; Räikkönen, Katri; Henrich, Wolfgang; Plagemann, Andreas; Binder, Elisabeth B.; Braun, Thorsten; Entringer, Sonja (2021)
    Background Glucocorticoids (GCs) play a pivotal role in fetal programming. Antenatal treatment with synthetic GCs (sGCs) in individuals in danger of preterm labor is common practice. Adverse short- and long-term effects of antenatal sGCs have been reported, but their effects on placental epigenetic characteristics have never been systematically studied in humans. Results We tested the association between exposure to the sGC betamethasone (BET) and placental DNA methylation (DNAm) in 52 exposed cases and 84 gestational-age-matched controls. We fine-mapped associated loci using targeted bisulfite sequencing. The association of placental DNAm with gene expression and co-expression analysis on implicated genes was performed in an independent cohort including 494 placentas. Exposure to BET was significantly associated with lower placenta DNAm at an enhancer of FKBP5. FKBP5 (FK506-binding protein 51) is a co-chaperone that modulates glucocorticoid receptor activity. Lower DNAm at this enhancer site was associated with higher expression of FKBP5 and a co-expressed gene module. This module is enriched for genes associated with preeclampsia and involved in inflammation and immune response. Conclusions Our findings suggest that BET exposure during pregnancy associates with few but lasting changes in placental DNAm and may promote a gene expression profile associated with placental dysfunction and increased inflammation. This may represent a pathway mediating GC-associated negative long-term consequences and health outcomes in offspring.
  • Sillanpää, Elina; Heikkinen, Aino; Kankaanpää, Anna; Paavilainen, Aini; Kujala, Urho M.; Tammelin, Tuija H.; Kovanen, Vuokko; Sipilä, Sarianna; Pietiläinen, Kirsi H.; Kaprio, Jaakko; Ollikainen, Miina; Laakkonen, Eija K. (BioMed Central, 2021)
    Abstract The aim of this study was to investigate the correspondence of different biological ageing estimates (i.e. epigenetic age) in blood and muscle tissue and their associations with physical activity (PA), physical function and body composition. Two independent cohorts (N = 139 and N = 47) were included, whose age span covered adulthood (23–69 years). Whole blood and m. vastus lateralis samples were collected, and DNA methylation was analysed. Four different DNA methylation age (DNAmAge) estimates were calculated using genome-wide methylation data and publicly available online tools. A novel muscle-specific methylation age was estimated using the R-package ‘MEAT’. PA was measured with questionnaires and accelerometers. Several tests were conducted to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength. Body composition was estimated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. DNAmAge estimates from blood and muscle were highly correlated with chronological age, but different age acceleration estimates were weakly associated with each other. The monozygotic twin within-pair similarity of ageing pace was higher in blood (r = 0.617–0.824) than in muscle (r = 0.523–0.585). Associations of age acceleration estimates with PA, physical function and body composition were weak in both tissues and mostly explained by smoking and sex. The muscle-specific epigenetic clock MEAT was developed to predict chronological age, which may explain why it did not associate with functional phenotypes. The Horvath’s clock and GrimAge were weakly associated with PA and related phenotypes, suggesting that higher PA would be linked to accelerated biological ageing in muscle. This may, however, be more reflective of the low capacity of epigenetic clock algorithms to measure functional muscle ageing than of actual age acceleration. Based on our results, the investigated epigenetic clocks have rather low value in estimating muscle ageing with respect to the physiological adaptations that typically occur due to ageing or PA. Thus, further development of methods is needed to gain insight into muscle tissue-specific ageing and the underlying biological pathways.
  • Lee, Yunsung; Haftorn, Kristine L.; Denault, William R. P.; Nustad, Haakon E.; Page, Christian M.; Lyle, Robert; Lee-Odegard, Sindre; Moen, Gunn-Helen; Prasad, Rashmi B.; Groop, Leif C.; Sletner, Line; Sommer, Christine; Magnus, Maria C.; Gjessing, Hakon K.; Harris, Jennifer R.; Magnus, Per; Haberg, Siri E.; Jugessur, Astanand; Bohlin, Jon (2020)
    BackgroundEpigenetic clocks have been recognized for their precise prediction of chronological age, age-related diseases, and all-cause mortality. Existing epigenetic clocks are based on CpGs from the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (450K) which has now been replaced by the latest platform, Illumina MethylationEPIC BeadChip (EPIC). Thus, it remains unclear to what extent EPIC contributes to increased precision and accuracy in the prediction of chronological age.ResultsWe developed three blood-based epigenetic clocks for human adults using EPIC-based DNA methylation (DNAm) data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) public repository: 1) an Adult Blood-based EPIC Clock (ABEC) trained on DNAm data from MoBa (n=1592, age-span: 19 to 59years), 2) an extended ABEC (eABEC) trained on DNAm data from MoBa and GEO (n=2227, age-span: 18 to 88years), and 3) a common ABEC (cABEC) trained on the same training set as eABEC but restricted to CpGs common to 450K and EPIC. Our clocks showed high precision (Pearson correlation between chronological and epigenetic age (r)>0.94) in independent cohorts, including GSE111165 (n=15), GSE115278 (n=108), GSE132203 (n=795), and the Epigenetics in Pregnancy (EPIPREG) study of the STORK Groruddalen Cohort (n=470). This high precision is unlikely due to the use of EPIC, but rather due to the large sample size of the training set.ConclusionsOur ABECs predicted adults' chronological age precisely in independent cohorts. As EPIC is now the dominant platform for measuring DNAm, these clocks will be useful in further predictions of chronological age, age-related diseases, and mortality.
  • Lee, Yunsung; Haftorn, Kristine L; Denault, William R P; Nustad, Haakon E; Page, Christian M; Lyle, Robert; Lee-Ødegård, Sindre; Moen, Gunn-Helen; Prasad, Rashmi B; Groop, Leif C; Sletner, Line; Sommer, Christine; Magnus, Maria C; Gjessing, Håkon K; Harris, Jennifer R; Magnus, Per; Håberg, Siri E; Jugessur, Astanand; Bohlin, Jon (BioMed Central, 2020)
    Abstract Background Epigenetic clocks have been recognized for their precise prediction of chronological age, age-related diseases, and all-cause mortality. Existing epigenetic clocks are based on CpGs from the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (450 K) which has now been replaced by the latest platform, Illumina MethylationEPIC BeadChip (EPIC). Thus, it remains unclear to what extent EPIC contributes to increased precision and accuracy in the prediction of chronological age. Results We developed three blood-based epigenetic clocks for human adults using EPIC-based DNA methylation (DNAm) data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) public repository: 1) an Adult Blood-based EPIC Clock (ABEC) trained on DNAm data from MoBa (n = 1592, age-span: 19 to 59 years), 2) an extended ABEC (eABEC) trained on DNAm data from MoBa and GEO (n = 2227, age-span: 18 to 88 years), and 3) a common ABEC (cABEC) trained on the same training set as eABEC but restricted to CpGs common to 450 K and EPIC. Our clocks showed high precision (Pearson correlation between chronological and epigenetic age (r) > 0.94) in independent cohorts, including GSE111165 (n = 15), GSE115278 (n = 108), GSE132203 (n = 795), and the Epigenetics in Pregnancy (EPIPREG) study of the STORK Groruddalen Cohort (n = 470). This high precision is unlikely due to the use of EPIC, but rather due to the large sample size of the training set. Conclusions Our ABECs predicted adults’ chronological age precisely in independent cohorts. As EPIC is now the dominant platform for measuring DNAm, these clocks will be useful in further predictions of chronological age, age-related diseases, and mortality.
  • Sulkava, Sonja; Ollila, Hanna M.; Alasaari, Jukka; Puttonen, Sampsa; Harma, Mikko; Viitasalo, Katriina; Lahtinen, Alexandra; Lindstrom, Jaana; Toivola, Auli; Sulkava, Raimo; Kivimaki, Mika; Vahtera, Jussi; Partonen, Timo; Silander, Kaisa; Porkka-Heiskanen, Tarja; Paunio, Tiina (2017)
    Study Objectives: Tolerance to shift work varies; only some shift workers suffer from disturbed sleep, fatigue, and job-related exhaustion. Our aim was to explore molecular genetic risk factors for intolerance to shift work. Methods: We assessed intolerance to shift work with job-related exhaustion symptoms in shift workers using the emotional exhaustion subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey, and carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using Illumina's Human610-Quad BeadChip (n = 176). The most significant findings were further studied in three groups of Finnish shift workers (n = 577). We assessed methylation in blood cells with the Illumina HumanMethylation450K BeadChip, and examined gene expression levels in the publicly available eGWAS Mayo data. Results: The second strongest signal identified in the GWAS (p = 2.3 x 10E-6) was replicated in two of the replication studies with p Conclusions: These findings suggest that a variant near MTNR1A may be associated with job-related exhaustion in shift workers. The risk variant may exert its effect via epigenetic mechanisms, potentially leading to reduced melatonin signaling in the brain. These results could indicate a link between melatonin signaling, a key circadian regulatory mechanism, and tolerance to shift work.
  • Fan, Qiuyu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder in which the disease process may take decades until the symptoms become evident. To date, no ideal biomarker has emerged that would enable early detection of AD. Environmental and lifestyle factors are thought to affect the risk of developing AD, possibly through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation (DNAm). DNAm has been shown to differ in the blood and brain of subjects with AD compared with subjects without AD, suggesting that DNAm may be involved in the pathogenic process of AD. This study aims to detect the difference in blood DNAm at baseline between cases who later developed AD and controls who remained AD diagnosis-free during follow-up in a sample selected from a Finnish population-based cohort. Leucocyte genome-wide DNAm was profiled on approximately 850,000 CpG sites by using Infinium MethylationEPIC assay. Each CpG was regressed on the outcome of AD diagnosis during follow-up, controlling for subjects’ age at sampling, sex, smoking status, blood cell counts, working stress level, slide, and array. Specific differentially methylated positions (DMPs) were further explored using pathway analysis. Finally, the methylation level of the candidate gene (APOE) selected from the literature was compared with the sample of this study. After correction for multiple testing, the later diagnosis of AD was not significantly (adjusted p-value < 0.05) associated with methylation level at the baseline at any DNAm site. There was, however, a robust hypomethylation of DMPs among the cases, as 90.9% of the DMPs (p-value < 0.05) were hypomethylated in the case group. The 200 genes annotated by DMPs with the smallest p-values were involved in two neuronal pathways: “Axon guidance associated with semaphorins Homo sapiens” (p-value = 0.0058, adjusted p-value = 0.065) in Panther 2016 and “Semaphorin interactions Homo sapiens” (p-value = 0.00005, adjusted p-value = 0.078) in Reactome 2016. No significant difference existed in DNAm of the candidate gene (APOE) between cases and controls, while cg26190885 at the promoter region of APOE showed nominal significance (p-value = 0.04). In conclusion, no strong evidence was found to support the hypothesis that systemic changes in DNAm are involved in the pathogenesis of AD or that DNAm marks could be detected in blood before the symptoms become evident. A genome-wide pattern of hypomethylation measured by the Infinium MethylationEPIC assay was observed in the case group, serving as a venue for further investigations.
  • Tobiasson, Magnus; Abdulkadir, Hani; Lennartsson, Andreas; Katayama, Shintaro; Marabita, Francesco; De Paepe, Ayla; Karimi, Mohsen; Krjutskov, Kaarel; Einarsdottir, Elisabet; Grovdal, Michael; Jansson, Monika; Ben Azenkoud, Asmaa; Corddedu, Lina; Lehmann, Soren; Ekwall, Karl; Kere, Juha; Hellstrom-Lindberg, Eva; Ungerstedt, Johanna (2017)
    Azacitidine (Aza) is first-line treatment for patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), although its precise mechanism of action is unknown. We performed the first study to globally evaluate the epigenetic effects of Aza on MDS bone marrow progenitor cells assessing gene expression (RNA seq), DNA methylation (Illumina 450k) and the histone modifications H3K18ac and H3K9me3 (ChIP seq). Aza induced a general increase in gene expression with 924 significantly upregulated genes but this increase showed no correlation with changes in DNA methylation or H3K18ac, and only a weak association with changes in H3K9me3. Interestingly, we observed activation of transcripts containing 15 endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) confirming previous cell line studies. DNA methylation decreased moderately in 99% of all genes, with a median beta-value reduction of 0.018; the most pronounced effects seen in heterochromatin. Aza-induced hypomethylation correlated significantly with change in H3K9me3. The pattern of H3K18ac and H3K9me3 displayed large differences between patients and healthy controls without any consistent pattern induced by Aza. We conclude that the marked induction of gene expression only partly could be explained by epigenetic changes, and propose that activation of ERVs may contribute to the clinical effects of Aza in MDS.
  • Yeung, Edwina H.; Guan, Weihua; Zeng, Xuehuo; Salas, Lucas A.; Mumford, Sunni L.; de Prado Bert, Paula; van Meel, Evelien R.; Malmberg, Anni; Sunyer, Jordi; Duijts, Liesbeth; Felix, Janine F.; Czamara, Darina; Hämäläinen, Esa; Binder, Elisabeth B.; Räikkönen, Katri; Lahti, Jari; London, Stephanie J.; Silver, Robert M.; Schisterman, Enrique F. (2020)
    Background Prenatal inflammation has been proposed as an important mediating factor in several adverse pregnancy outcomes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory cytokine easily measured in blood. It has clinical value due to its reliability as a biomarker for systemic inflammation and can indicate cellular injury and disease severity. Elevated levels of CRP in adulthood are associated with alterations in DNA methylation. However, no studies have prospectively investigated the relationship between maternal CRP levels and newborn DNA methylation measured by microarray in cord blood with reasonable epigenome-wide coverage. Importantly, the timing of inflammation exposure during pregnancy may also result in different effects. Thus, our objective was to evaluate this prospective association of CRP levels measured during multiple periods of pregnancy and in cord blood at delivery which was available in one cohort (i.e., Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction trial), and also to conduct a meta-analysis with available data at one point in pregnancy from three other cohorts from the Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics consortium (PACE). Secondarily, the impact of maternal randomization to low dose aspirin prior to pregnancy on methylation was assessed. Results Maternal CRP levels were not associated with newborn DNA methylation regardless of gestational age of measurement (i.e., CRP at approximately 8, 20, and 36 weeks among 358 newborns in EAGeR). There also was no association in the meta-analyses (all p > 0.5) with a larger sample size (n = 1603) from all participating PACE cohorts with available CRP data from first trimester (<18 weeks gestation). Randomization to aspirin was not associated with DNA methylation. On the other hand, newborn CRP levels were significantly associated with DNA methylation in the EAGeR trial, with 33 CpGs identified (FDR corrected p <0.05) when both CRP and methylation were measured at the same time point in cord blood. The top 7 CpGs most strongly associated with CRP resided in inflammation and vascular-related genes. Conclusions Maternal CRP levels measured during each trimester were not associated with cord blood DNA methylation. Rather, DNA methylation was associated with CRP levels measured in cord blood, particularly in gene regions predominately associated with angiogenic and inflammatory pathways.
  • Yeung, Edwina H; Guan, Weihua; Zeng, Xuehuo; Salas, Lucas A; Mumford, Sunni L; de Prado Bert, Paula; van Meel, Evelien R; Malmberg, Anni; Sunyer, Jordi; Duijts, Liesbeth; Felix, Janine F; Czamara, Darina; Hämäläinen, Esa; Binder, Elisabeth B; Räikkönen, Katri; Lahti, Jari; London, Stephanie J; Silver, Robert M; Schisterman, Enrique F (BioMed Central, 2020)
    Abstract Background Prenatal inflammation has been proposed as an important mediating factor in several adverse pregnancy outcomes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory cytokine easily measured in blood. It has clinical value due to its reliability as a biomarker for systemic inflammation and can indicate cellular injury and disease severity. Elevated levels of CRP in adulthood are associated with alterations in DNA methylation. However, no studies have prospectively investigated the relationship between maternal CRP levels and newborn DNA methylation measured by microarray in cord blood with reasonable epigenome-wide coverage. Importantly, the timing of inflammation exposure during pregnancy may also result in different effects. Thus, our objective was to evaluate this prospective association of CRP levels measured during multiple periods of pregnancy and in cord blood at delivery which was available in one cohort (i.e., Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction trial), and also to conduct a meta-analysis with available data at one point in pregnancy from three other cohorts from the Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics consortium (PACE). Secondarily, the impact of maternal randomization to low dose aspirin prior to pregnancy on methylation was assessed. Results Maternal CRP levels were not associated with newborn DNA methylation regardless of gestational age of measurement (i.e., CRP at approximately 8, 20, and 36 weeks among 358 newborns in EAGeR). There also was no association in the meta-analyses (all p > 0.5) with a larger sample size (n = 1603) from all participating PACE cohorts with available CRP data from first trimester (< 18 weeks gestation). Randomization to aspirin was not associated with DNA methylation. On the other hand, newborn CRP levels were significantly associated with DNA methylation in the EAGeR trial, with 33 CpGs identified (FDR corrected p < 0.05) when both CRP and methylation were measured at the same time point in cord blood. The top 7 CpGs most strongly associated with CRP resided in inflammation and vascular-related genes. Conclusions Maternal CRP levels measured during each trimester were not associated with cord blood DNA methylation. Rather, DNA methylation was associated with CRP levels measured in cord blood, particularly in gene regions predominately associated with angiogenic and inflammatory pathways. Trial registration Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00467363, Registered April 30, 2007, http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00467363
  • Scala, Giovanni; Federico, Antonio; Greco, Dario (2021)
    BackgroundThe investigation of molecular alterations associated with the conservation and variation of DNA methylation in eukaryotes is gaining interest in the biomedical research community. Among the different determinants of methylation stability, the DNA composition of the CpG surrounding regions has been shown to have a crucial role in the maintenance and establishment of methylation statuses. This aspect has been previously characterized in a quantitative manner by inspecting the nucleotidic composition in the region. Research in this field still lacks a qualitative perspective, linked to the identification of certain sequences (or DNA motifs) related to particular DNA methylation phenomena.ResultsHere we present a novel computational strategy based on short DNA motif discovery in order to characterize sequence patterns related to aberrant CpG methylation events. We provide our framework as a user-friendly, shiny-based application, CpGmotifs, to easily retrieve and characterize DNA patterns related to CpG methylation in the human genome. Our tool supports the functional interpretation of deregulated methylation events by predicting transcription factors binding sites (TFBS) encompassing the identified motifs.ConclusionsCpGmotifs is an open source software. Its source code is available on GitHub https://github.com/Greco-Lab/CpGmotifs and a ready-to-use docker image is provided on DockerHub at https://hub.docker.com/r/grecolab/cpgmotifs.
  • Scala, Giovanni; Federico, Antonio; Greco, Dario (BioMed Central, 2021)
    Abstract Background The investigation of molecular alterations associated with the conservation and variation of DNA methylation in eukaryotes is gaining interest in the biomedical research community. Among the different determinants of methylation stability, the DNA composition of the CpG surrounding regions has been shown to have a crucial role in the maintenance and establishment of methylation statuses. This aspect has been previously characterized in a quantitative manner by inspecting the nucleotidic composition in the region. Research in this field still lacks a qualitative perspective, linked to the identification of certain sequences (or DNA motifs) related to particular DNA methylation phenomena. Results Here we present a novel computational strategy based on short DNA motif discovery in order to characterize sequence patterns related to aberrant CpG methylation events. We provide our framework as a user-friendly, shiny-based application, CpGmotifs, to easily retrieve and characterize DNA patterns related to CpG methylation in the human genome. Our tool supports the functional interpretation of deregulated methylation events by predicting transcription factors binding sites (TFBS) encompassing the identified motifs. Conclusions CpGmotifs is an open source software. Its source code is available on GitHub https://github.com/Greco-Lab/CpGmotifs and a ready-to-use docker image is provided on DockerHub at https://hub.docker.com/r/grecolab/cpgmotifs .
  • Akhondzadeh, Soheila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer and is the most lethal gynecologic cancer due to its late diagnosis. Compared to ovarian cancer, endometrial carcinoma, as the most common gynecologic malignancy, is referred to as the “curable cancer”, as it can be detected early. As aberrant promoter methylation patterns are a common change in human cancer, detection of promoter methylation status may help in early diagnosis. In this study, we used a custom-designed methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) assay as a rapid and easy method, to simultaneously detect the methylation status of multiple genes in ovarian and endometrial cancer samples. Aims: To design and test an MS-MLPA assay for analyzing promoter methylation of four genes associated with ovarian and endometrial cancers. The selected genes were HNF1 homeobox B (HNF1β), Ten-eleven translocation 1(TET1), L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM), and AT-rich interactive domain 1A (ARID1A). These genes are known to have expression changes by DNA methylation. Methods: The promoter DNA methylation patterns of these four genes were analyzed in 15 cancer cell lines and 5 normal cell lines and DNAs using bisulfite sequencing. Six synthetic probe pairs were designed and optimized by applying them to cancer and normal cell lines and normal DNAs and comparing the results with those of bisulfite sequencing. Finally, the MS-MLPA assay was performed on patient specimens according to the MRC-HOLLAND MS-MLPA general protocol and methylation frequencies were calculated from MS-MLPA data. Results and conclusion: The MS-MLPA assay gave accurate methylation results with the 170 samples assayed. The HNF1B, L1CAM, and TET1 Genes were observed methylated in tumor samples whereas they were not methylated in the normal samples or showed very little methylation, suggested to be favorable diagnostic markers. MS-MLPA robustly and sensitively detects the promoter DNA methylation status.