Local hypomethylation in atherosclerosis found in rabbit ec-sod gene

Mikko O. Laukkanen, Sanna Mannermaa, Mikko O. Hiltunen, Saara Aittomäki, Kari Airenne, Juhani Jänne, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD) protects arteries against deleterious effects of superoxide anions and the development of atherosclerosis. In this study, we cloned and characterized rabbit ec-sod gene. We identified 6 rabbit C-elements and 5 CpG clusters in the cloned sequence. One of the CpG clusters is located on the coding sequence. Because CpG clusters are potential sites for methylation and may explain the occurrence of mutations, methylation status of each of the CpG dimers located in the coding sequence CpG cluster was characterized using direct genomic sequencing. Unexpectedly, a marked reduction in the amount of methylated CpG dinucleotides in ec-sod gene was detected in atherosclerotic aortas as compared with normal aortic intima-media. Although alterations in DNA methylation are well characterized in malignant tumors, the presence of methylation changes in atherosclerosis has not been studied even though both diseases are characterized by excess cellular proliferation and alterations in gene expression. Further analysis of the whole genomic methylation by high-pressure liquid chromatography in normal and atherosclerotic aortas revealed a tendency for a decreased 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) content in atherosclerotic aortas as compared with normal arteries. Hypomethylation in atherosclerotic aortas occurred at the same level as has been reported from malignant tumors. Although a causal relationship between the methylation level and expression of EC-SOD cannot be proven, our results show that ec-sod hypomethylation is associated with the development of atherosclerosis and suggest that it may affect structure and function of ec-sod and other genes possibly involved in the development of atherosclerotic lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2171-2178
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1999


  • Atherosclerosis
  • CpG island
  • DNA methylation
  • EC-SOD
  • Mutations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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