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Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Jul 15;20(14):2710-21. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr170. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Tissue-specific demethylation in CpG-poor promoters during cellular differentiation.

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  • 1Genome Science Division, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology and Department of Pathology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract

Epigenetic regulation is essential in determining cellular phenotypes during differentiation. Although tissue-specific DNA methylation has been studied, the significance of methylation variance for tissue phenotypes remains unresolved, especially for CpG-poor promoters. Here, we comprehensively studied methylation levels of 27 578 CpG sites among 21 human normal tissues from 12 anatomically different regions using an epigenotyping beadarray system. Remarkable changes in tissue-specific DNA methylation were observed within CpG-poor promoters but not CpG-rich promoters. Of note, tissue-specific hypomethylation is accompanied by an increase in gene expression, which gives rise to specialized cellular functions. The hypomethylated regions were significantly enriched with recognition motifs for transcription factors that regulate cell-type-specific differentiation. To investigate the dynamics of hypomethylation events, we analyzed methylation levels of the entire APOA1 gene locus during in vitro differentiation of embryonic stem cells toward the hepatic lineage. A decrease in methylation was observed after day 13, coinciding with alpha-fetoprotein detection, in the vicinity of its transcription start sites (TSSs), and extends up to ∼200 bp region encompassing the TSS at day 21, equivalent to the hepatoblastic stage. This decrease is even more pronounced in the adult liver, where the entire APOA1 gene locus is hypomethylated. Furthermore, when we compared the methylation status of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells with their parental cell, IMR-90, we found that fibroblast-specific hypomethylation is restored to a fully methylated state in iPS cells after reprogramming. These results illuminate tissue-specific methylation dynamics in CpG-poor promoters and provide more comprehensive views on spatiotemporal gene regulation in terminal differentiation.

PMID:
21505077
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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