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Genomics. 2000 Mar 1;64(2):132-43.

Symmetric and asymmetric DNA methylation in the human IGF2-H19 imprinted region.

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Medical Service and GRECC, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


The two contiguous IGF2 (human insulin-like growth factor II) and H19 genes are reciprocally imprinted in both human and mouse. In most tissues, IGF2 is transcribed only from the paternal chromosome while H19 is transcribed only from the maternal allele. The presence of a differential methylation region (DMR) on the two parental alleles at the 5' flanking region of H19 has been proposed to constitute the gametic imprint, which controls the reciprocal allelic expression of the two genes. Using bisulfite genomic sequencing, we have assessed the methylation status of cytosine (including 154 CpG sites) in six CpG-rich regions of the human IGF2-H19 genes. In a CpG island near promoter P3 of the IGF2 gene, more than 99.8% of all cytosines were converted to thymidine by sodium bisulfite mutagenesis, indicating that none of the CpGs was methylated. In the IGF2 exon 8-9 region, mosaic methylation of 56 CpG sites was observed in fetal tissues and in adult blood DNA. In contrast to the mosaic methylation of IGF2, the allelic methylation of the human H19 DMR was uniform. In the CpG region located 2 kb upstream (-2362 to -1911) of the H19 transcription site, all 25 CpG sites were completely methylated on only one parental allele. Uniform allele-specific methylation was also observed in the CpG island proximal to the H19 promoter (-711 to -290) with complete methylation of all 25 CpG sites in one parental allele. In contrast, the CpG region in the H19 promoter (-292 to +15) was mosaically methylated in all tissues. In addition, cytosine was methylated at three CpNpG and GpNpC sites on the top DNA strand and one CpNpG site on the bottom DNA strand from the fetal brain. The cytosines at CpG sites were methylated on both DNA strands (symmetric methylation) while cytosines at the CpNpG and GpNpC sites were methylated on only one DNA strand (asymmetric methylation). The asymmetric methylation was associated with tissue-specific disruption of H19 genomic imprinting in fetal brain.

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