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Eur J Hum Genet. 2013 Aug;21(8):838-43. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2012.262. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Frequency and characterization of DNA methylation defects in children born SGA.

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  • 1Institute of Human Genetics, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel and University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Various genes located at imprinted loci and regulated by epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the control of growth and differentiation. The broad phenotypic variability of imprinting disorders suggests that individuals with inborn errors of imprinting might remain undetected among patients born small for gestational age (SGA). We evaluated quantitative DNA methylation analysis at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of 10 imprinted loci (PLAGL1, IGF2R DMR2, GRB10, H19 DMR, IGF2, MEG3, NDN, SNRPN, NESP, NESPAS) by bisulphite pyrosequencing in 98 patients born SGA and 50 controls. For IGF2R DMR2, methylation patterns of additional 47 parent pairs and one mother (95 individuals) of patients included in the SGA cohort were analyzed. In six out of 98 patients born SGA, we detected DNA methylation changes at single loci. In one child, the diagnosis of upd(14)mat syndrome owing to an epimutation of the MEG3 locus in 14q32 could be established. The remaining five patients showed hypomethylation at GRB10 (n=2), hypomethylation at the H19 3CTCF-binding site (n=1), hypermethylation at NDN (n=1) and hypermethylation at IGF2 (n=1). IGF2R DMR2 hypermethylation was detected in five patients, six parents of patients in the SGA cohort and two controls. We conclude that aberrant methylation at imprinted loci in children born SGA exists but seems to be rare if known imprinting syndromes are excluded. Further investigations on the physiological variations and the functional consequences of the detected aberrant methylation are necessary before final conclusions on the clinical impact can be drawn.

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