BACKGROUND: Zinc finger and BTB domain-containing protein 12 (ZBTB12) is a predicted transcription factor with potential role in hematopoietic development. Recent evidence linked low methylation level of ZBTB12 exon1 to myocardial infarction (MI) risk. However, the role of ZBTB12 in the pathogenesis of MI and cardiovascular disease in general is not yet clarified. We investigated the relation between ZBTB12 methylation and several blood parameters related to cardio-cerebrovascular risk in an Italian family-based cohort.
RESULTS: ZBTB12 methylation was analyzed on white blood cells from the Moli-family cohort using the Sequenom EpiTYPER MassARRAY (Agena). A total of 13 CpG Sequenom units were analyzed in the small CpG island located in the only translated ZBTB12 exon. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to identify groups of CpG units with similar methylation estimates. Linear mixed effect regressions showed a positive association between methylation of ZBTB12 Factor 2 (including CpG units 8, 9-10, 16, 21) and TNF-ɑ stimulated procoagulant activity, a measure of procoagulant and inflammatory potential of blood cells. In addition, we also found a negative association between methylation of ZBTB12 Factor 1 (mainly characterized by CpG units 1, 3-4, 5, 11, and 26) and white blood cell and granulocyte counts. An in silico prediction analysis identified granulopoiesis- and hematopoiesis-specific transcription factors to potentially bind DNA sequences encompassing CpG1, CpG3-4, and CpG11.
CONCLUSIONS: ZBTB12 hypomethylation is linked to shorter TNF-ɑ stimulated whole blood coagulation time and increased WBC and granulocyte counts, further elucidating the possible link between ZBTB12 methylation and cardiovascular disease risk.