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      Allele-Specific, Age-Dependent and BMI-Associated DNA Methylation of Human MCHR1

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          Melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1 (MCHR1) plays a significant role in regulation of energy balance, food intake, physical activity and body weight in humans and rodents. Several association studies for human obesity showed contrary results concerning the SNPs rs133072 (G/A) and rs133073 (T/C), which localize to the first exon of MCHR1. The variations constitute two main haplotypes (GT, AC). Both SNPs affect CpG dinucleotides, whereby each haplotype contains a potential methylation site at one of the two SNP positions. In addition, 15 CpGs in close vicinity of these SNPs constitute a weak CpG island. Here, we studied whether DNA methylation in this sequence context may contribute to population- and age-specific effects of MCHR1 alleles in obesity.

          Principal Findings

          We analyzed DNA methylation of a 315 bp region of MCHR1 encompassing rs133072 and rs133073 and the CpG island in blood samples of 49 individuals by bisulfite sequencing. The AC haplotype shows a significantly higher methylation level than the GT haplotype. This allele-specific methylation is age-dependent. In young individuals (20–30 years) the difference in DNA methylation between haplotypes is significant; whereas in individuals older than 60 years it is not detectable. Interestingly, the GT allele shows a decrease in methylation status with increasing BMI, whereas the methylation of the AC allele is not associated with this phenotype. Heterozygous lymphoblastoid cell lines show the same pattern of allele-specific DNA methylation. The cell line, which exhibits the highest difference in methylation levels between both haplotypes, also shows allele-specific transcription of MCHR1, which can be abolished by treatment with the DNA methylase inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine.


          We show that DNA methylation at MCHR1 is allele-specific, age-dependent, BMI-associated and affects transcription. Conceivably, this epigenetic regulation contributes to the age- and/or population specific effects reported for MCHR1 in several human obesity studies.

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          Most cited references 57

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          Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome.

           James Galagan (2001)
          The human genome holds an extraordinary trove of information about human development, physiology, medicine and evolution. Here we report the results of an international collaboration to produce and make freely available a draft sequence of the human genome. We also present an initial analysis of the data, describing some of the insights that can be gleaned from the sequence.
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            The CLUSTAL_X windows interface: flexible strategies for multiple sequence alignment aided by quality analysis tools.

            CLUSTAL X is a new windows interface for the widely-used progressive multiple sequence alignment program CLUSTAL W. The new system is easy to use, providing an integrated system for performing multiple sequence and profile alignments and analysing the results. CLUSTAL X displays the sequence alignment in a window on the screen. A versatile sequence colouring scheme allows the user to highlight conserved features in the alignment. Pull-down menus provide all the options required for traditional multiple sequence and profile alignment. New features include: the ability to cut-and-paste sequences to change the order of the alignment, selection of a subset of the sequences to be realigned, and selection of a sub-range of the alignment to be realigned and inserted back into the original alignment. Alignment quality analysis can be performed and low-scoring segments or exceptional residues can be highlighted. Quality analysis and realignment of selected residue ranges provide the user with a powerful tool to improve and refine difficult alignments and to trap errors in input sequences. CLUSTAL X has been compiled on SUN Solaris, IRIX5.3 on Silicon Graphics, Digital UNIX on DECstations, Microsoft Windows (32 bit) for PCs, Linux ELF for x86 PCs, and Macintosh PowerMac.
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              The sequence of the human genome.

              A 2.91-billion base pair (bp) consensus sequence of the euchromatic portion of the human genome was generated by the whole-genome shotgun sequencing method. The 14.8-billion bp DNA sequence was generated over 9 months from 27,271,853 high-quality sequence reads (5.11-fold coverage of the genome) from both ends of plasmid clones made from the DNA of five individuals. Two assembly strategies-a whole-genome assembly and a regional chromosome assembly-were used, each combining sequence data from Celera and the publicly funded genome effort. The public data were shredded into 550-bp segments to create a 2.9-fold coverage of those genome regions that had been sequenced, without including biases inherent in the cloning and assembly procedure used by the publicly funded group. This brought the effective coverage in the assemblies to eightfold, reducing the number and size of gaps in the final assembly over what would be obtained with 5.11-fold coverage. The two assembly strategies yielded very similar results that largely agree with independent mapping data. The assemblies effectively cover the euchromatic regions of the human chromosomes. More than 90% of the genome is in scaffold assemblies of 100,000 bp or more, and 25% of the genome is in scaffolds of 10 million bp or larger. Analysis of the genome sequence revealed 26,588 protein-encoding transcripts for which there was strong corroborating evidence and an additional approximately 12,000 computationally derived genes with mouse matches or other weak supporting evidence. Although gene-dense clusters are obvious, almost half the genes are dispersed in low G+C sequence separated by large tracts of apparently noncoding sequence. Only 1.1% of the genome is spanned by exons, whereas 24% is in introns, with 75% of the genome being intergenic DNA. Duplications of segmental blocks, ranging in size up to chromosomal lengths, are abundant throughout the genome and reveal a complex evolutionary history. Comparative genomic analysis indicates vertebrate expansions of genes associated with neuronal function, with tissue-specific developmental regulation, and with the hemostasis and immune systems. DNA sequence comparisons between the consensus sequence and publicly funded genome data provided locations of 2.1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). A random pair of human haploid genomes differed at a rate of 1 bp per 1250 on average, but there was marked heterogeneity in the level of polymorphism across the genome. Less than 1% of all SNPs resulted in variation in proteins, but the task of determining which SNPs have functional consequences remains an open challenge.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Genome Analysis, Leibniz Institute for Age Research – Fritz Lipmann Institute, Jena, Germany
                [2 ]Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
                Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Australia
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SS KR KH MP. Performed the experiments: SS. Analyzed the data: SS UG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: AN PR MW PFP. Wrote the paper: SS KR KH MP.

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                26 May 2011
                : 6
                : 5
                Stepanow 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.
                Pages: 9
                Research Article
                DNA modification
                Gene Expression
                DNA modification
                Human Genetics
                Genetic Association Studies
                Population Genetics
                Genetic Polymorphism



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