Human DNA methylomes at base resolution show widespread epigenomic differences

Human DNA methylomes at base resolution show widespread epigenomic differences by Lister, R. from Genomic Analysis Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California published in Nature 2009 Nov 19;462(7271):315-22. Epub 2009 Oct 14.

Abstract

DNA cytosine methylation is a central epigenetic modification that plays essential roles in cellular processes including genome regulation, development and disease. Here we present the first genome-wide, single-base resolution maps of methylated cytosines in a mammalian genome, from both human embryonic stem cells and fetal fibroblasts, along with comparative analysis of mRNA and small RNA components of the transcriptome, several histone modifications, and sites of DNA-protein interaction for several key regulatory factors. Widespread differences were identified in the composition and patterning of cytosine methylation between the two genomes.

Nearly one-quarter of all methylation identified in embryonic stem cells was in a non-CG context, suggesting that they may utilize different methylation mechanisms to affect gene regulation. Methylation in non-CG contexts showed enrichment in gene bodies and depletion in protein binding sites and enhancers. Non-CG methylation disappeared upon induced differentiation of the embryonic stem cells, and was restored in induced pluripotent stem cells.

We identified hundreds of differentially methylated regions proximal to genes involved in pluripotency and differentiation, and widespread reduced methylation levels in fibroblasts associated with lower transcriptional activity. These reference epigenomes provide a foundation for future studies exploring this key epigenetic modification in human disease and development.