Skip Navigation

Publication Detail

Title: DNA methylome of human neonatal umbilical cord: Enrichment of differentially methylated regions compared to umbilical cord blood DNA at transcription factor genes involved in body patterning and effects of maternal folate deficiency or children's sex.

Authors: Sakurai, Kenichi; Shioda, Keiko; Eguchi, Akifumi; Watanabe, Masahiro; Miyaso, Hidenori; Mori, Chisato; Shioda, Toshi

Published In PLoS One, (2019)

Abstract: The DOHaD (developmental origins of health and disease) hypothesis claims that fetal malnutrition or exposure to environmental pollutants may affect their lifelong health. Epigenetic changes may play significant roles in DOHaD; however, access to human fetuses for research has ethical and technical hurdles. Umbilical cord blood (CB) has been commonly used as an epigenetic surrogate of fetuses, but it does not provide direct evidence of fetal exposure to pollutants. Here, we propose umbilical cord tissue (UC), which accumulates substances delivered to fetuses during gestation, as an alternative surrogate for epigenetic studies on fetuses. To explore the feasibility to examine UC epigenome by deep sequencing, we determined CpG methylation profiles of human postnatal UC by reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. Principal component analysis clearly separated the DNA methylomes of UC and CB pairs isolated from the same newborn (n = 10). Although all UC chromosomes were modestly hypomethylated compared to CB chromosomes, GO analysis revealed strong enrichment of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) at promoter-associated CpG islands in the HOX gene clusters and other genes encoding transcription factors involved in determination of the body pattern. DNA methylomes of UC autosomes were largely comparable between males and females. Deficiency of folate during pregnancy has been suggested to affect fetal DNA methylation to cause congenital anomalies. Whereas DNA methylome of UC was not significantly affected by early-gestational (12 weeks) low levels of maternal plasma folate (< 8 ng/ml, n = 10) compared to controls (>19 ng/mL, n = 10), two specific loci of LTR12C endogenous retroviruses in chromosome 12 were significantly hypermethylated in the low-folate group. Our study suggests that UC is useful as an alternative surrogate for studying environmental effects on DNA methylation in human fetuses, compensating CB by providing additional information about epigenetic regulation of genes involved in developmental body patterning and endogenous retroviruses.

PubMed ID: 31063509 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Body Patterning/genetics*; Computational Biology/methods; DNA Methylation*; Epigenesis, Genetic; Epigenome*; Female; Fetal Blood*; Folic Acid Deficiency/blood*; Folic Acid Deficiency/genetics*; Gene Ontology; Gestational Age; High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing; Humans; Infant, Newborn; Male; Pregnancy; Sex Determination Processes/genetics*; Transcription Factors/genetics*

to Top