Heritable DNA methylation in CD4+ Cells among complex families displays genetic and non-genetic effects

Academic Article

Abstract

  • DNA methylation at CpG sites is both heritable and influenced by environment, but the relative contributions of each to DNA methylation levels are unclear. We conducted a heritability analysis of CpG methylation in human CD4+ cells across 975 individuals from 163 families in the Genetics of Lipid-lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN). Based on a broad-sense heritability (H2 ) value threshold of 0.4, we identified 20,575 highly heritable CpGs among the 174,445 most variable autosomal CpGs (SD > 0.02). Tests for associations of heritable CpGs with genotype at 2,145,360 SNPs using 717 of 975 individuals showed that 74% were cis-meQTLs (< 1 Mb away from the CpG), 6% of CpGs exhibited trans-meQTL associations (>1 Mb away from the CpG or located on a different chromosome), and 20% of CpGs showed no strong significant associations with genotype (based on a p-value threshold of 1e-7). Genes proximal to the genotype independent heritable CpGs were enriched for functional terms related to regulation of T cell activation. These CpGs were also among those that distinguished T cells from other blood cell lineages. Compared to genes proximal to meQTL-associated heritable CpGs, genotype independent heritable CpGs were moderately enriched in the same genomic regions that escape erasure during primordial germ cell development and could carry potential for generational transmission.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Day K; Waite LL; Alonso A; Irvin MR; Zhi D; Thibeault KS; Aslibekyan S; Hidalgo B; Borecki IB; Ordovas JM
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 10