Distinct methylation changes at the IGF2-H19 locus in congenital growth disorders and cancer

Adele Murrell, Yoko Ito, Gaetano Verde, Joanna Huddleston, Kathryn Woodfine, Margherita Cirillo Silengo, Filippo Spreafico, Daniela Perotti, Agostina De Crescenzo, Angela Sparago, Flavia Cerrato, Andrea Riccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) are associated with many imprinted genes. In mice methylation at a DMR upstream of the H19 gene known as the imprint Control region (IC1) is acquired in the male germline and influences the methylation status of DMRs 100 kb away in the adjacent insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2) gene through long-range interactions. In humans, germline-derived or post-zygotically acquired imprinting defects at IC1 are associated with aberrant activation or repression of IGF2, resulting in the congenital growth disorders Beckwith-Wiedemann (BWS) and Silver-Russell (SRS) syndromes, respectively. In Wilms tumour and colorectal cancer, biallelic expression of IGF2 has been observed in association with loss of methylation at a DMR in IGF2. This DMR, known as DMRO, has been shown to be methylated on the silent maternal IGF2 allele presumably with a role in repression. The effect of IGF2 DMRO methylation changes in the aetiology of BWS or SRS is unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analysed the methylation status of the DMRO in BWS, SRS and Wilms tumour patients by conventional bisulphite sequencing and pyrosequencing. We show here that, contrary to reports, the IGF2 DMRO is actually methylated on the active paternal allele in peripheral blood and kidney. This is similar to the IC1 methylation status and is inconsistent with the proposed silencing function of the maternal IGF2 allele. Beckwith-Wiedemann and Silver-Russell patients with IC1 methylation defects have similar methylation defects at the IGF2 DMRO, consistent with IC1 regulating methylation at IGF2 in cis. In Wilms tumour, however, methylation profiles of IC1 and IGF2 DMRO are indicative of methylation changes occuring on both parental alleles rather than in cis. Conclusions/Significance: These results support a model in which DMRO and IC1 have opposite susceptibilities to global hyper and hypomethylation during tumorigenesis independent of the parent of origin imprint. In contrast, during embryogenesis DMRO is mehtylated or demethylated according to the germline methylation imprint at the IC1, indicating different mechanisms of imprinting loss in neoplastic and non-neoplastic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1849
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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