Genetic effects on DNA methylation and its potential relevance for obesity in Mexican Americans
Carless, MA and Kulkarni, H and Kos, MZ and Charlesworth, J and Peralta, JM and Goring, HHH and Curran, JE and Almasy, L and Dyer, TD and Comuzzie, AG and Mahaney, MC and Blangero, J, Genetic effects on DNA methylation and its potential relevance for obesity in Mexican Americans, PL o S One, 8, (9) Article e73950. ISSN 1932-6203 (2013) [Refereed Article]
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Several studies have identified effects of genetic variation on DNA methylation patterns and associated heritability, with research primarily focused on Caucasian individuals. In this paper, we examine the evidence for genetic effects on DNA methylation in a Mexican American cohort, a population burdened by a high prevalence of obesity. Using an Illumina-based platform and following stringent quality control procedures, we assessed a total of 395 CpG sites in peripheral blood samples obtained from 183 Mexican American individuals for evidence of heritability, proximal genetic regulation and association with age, sex and obesity measures (i.e. waist circumference and body mass index). We identified 16 CpG sites (∼4%) that were significantly heritable after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing and 27 CpG sites (∼6.9%) that showed evidence of genetic effects. Six CpG sites (∼2%) were associated with age, primarily exhibiting positive relationships, including CpG sites in two genes that have been implicated in previous genome-wide methylation studies of age (FZD9 and MYOD1). In addition, we identified significant associations between three CpG sites (∼1%) and sex, including DNA methylation in CASP6, a gene that may respond to estradiol treatment, and in HSD17B12, which encodes a sex steroid hormone. Although we did not identify any significant associations between DNA methylation and the obesity measures, several nominally significant results were observed in genes related to adipogenesis, obesity, energy homeostasis and glucose homeostasis (ARHGAP9, CDKN2A, FRZB, HOXA5, JAK3, MEST, NPY, PEG3 and SMARCB1). In conclusion, we were able to replicate several findings from previous studies in our Mexican American cohort, supporting an important role for genetic effects on DNA methylation. In addition, we found a significant influence of age and sex on DNA methylation, and report on trend-level, novel associations between DNA methylation and measures of obesity.