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

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2016 Day et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. 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