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Eur J Pediatr. 2014 Sep;173(9):1233-44. doi: 10.1007/s00431-014-2311-9. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Hypermethylation of the enolase gene (ENO2) in autism.

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Institute of Medical Genetics, Shanghai Children's Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China,


It has been hypothesized that dysregulation of brain-expressed genes is the major predisposing underlying mechanism for autism. This dysregulation may be mediated by differential methylation of CpG sites within gene promoters, which could be candidate biomarkers and used for early clinical screening of autism. A total of 131 pairs of age- and sex-matched autistic and control subjects were recruited in this study. Peripheral blood cells were analyzed. The first five pairs were randomly applied to array-based genome-wide methylation studies. A neuron-specific gene, ENO2, was found to be hypermethylated in the autistic samples. This difference was validated by bisulfite sequencing PCR (BSP). The differential expression of ENO2 gene was further analyzed with RT-qPCR and ELISA. The hypermethylation of ENO2 within the promoter region was confirmed by BSP to be present in 14.5 % (19/131) of the total of the autistic samples. The mean ENO2 RNA level in these 19 autistic samples was reduced by about 70 % relative to that in controls. The average level of ENO2 protein expression in the 19 autistic samples (15.18 ± 3.51 μg/l) was about half of that in the controls (33.86 ± 8.16 μg/l).


These findings suggest that reduced ENO2 expression may be a biomarker for a subset of autistic children.

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