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Epigenetics. 2010 Aug 16;5(6):527-38. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Tissue specific DNA methylation of CpG islands in normal human adult somatic tissues distinguishes neural from non-neural tissues.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Genetics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA.


Although most CpG islands are generally thought to remain unmethylated in all adult somatic tissues, recent genome-wide approaches have found that some CpG islands have distinct methylation patterns in various tissues, with most differences being seen between germ cells and somatic tissues. Few studies have addressed this among human somatic tissues and fewer still have studied the same sets of tissues from multiple individuals. In the current study, we used Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning to study tissue specific methylation patterns in a set of twelve human tissues collected from multiple individuals. We identified 34 differentially methylated CpG islands among these tissues, many of which showed consistent patterns in multiple individuals. Of particular interest were striking differences in CpG island methylation, not only among brain regions, but also between white and grey matter of the same region. These findings were confirmed for selected loci by quantitative bisulfite sequencing. Cluster analysis of the RLGS data indicated that several tissues clustered together, but the strongest clustering was in brain. Tissues from different brain regions clustered together, and, as a group, brain tissues were distinct from either mesoderm or endoderm derived tissues which demonstrated limited clustering. These data demonstrate consistent tissue specific methylation for certain CpG islands, with clear differences between white and grey matter of the brain. Furthermore, there was an overall pattern of tissue specifically methylated CpG islands that distinguished neural tissues from non-neural.

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