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Brief Bioinform. 2018 Jan 1;19(1):89-100. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbw098.

The framework for population epigenetic study.


At present, understanding of DNA methylation at the population level is still limited. Here, we first extended the classical framework of population genetics, such as single nucleotide polymorphism allele frequency, linkage disequilibrium (LD), LD block and haplotype, to epigenetics. Then, as an example, we compared the DNA methylation disequilibrium (MD) maps between HapMap CEU (Caucasian residents of European ancestry from Utah) population and YRI (Yoruba people from Ibadan) population (lymphoblastoid cell lines). We analyzed the differences and similarities between CEU and YRI from the following aspects: SMP (single methylation polymorphism) allele frequency, SMP allele association, MD, MD block and methylation haplotype (meplotype) frequency. The results showed that CEU and YRI had similar distribution of SMP allele frequency, and shared many MD block region. We believe that the framework of population genetics can be used in the population epigenetics. The population epigenetic framework also has potential prospects in the study of complex diseases, such as epigenome-wide association study.


DNA methylation; SMP; epigenome-wide association study; population epigenetics; population genetics; single methylation polymorphism

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