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Differentially methylated regions and methylation QTLs for teen depression and early puberty in the Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study

By Roberta De Vito, Isabella N Grabski, Derek Aguiar, Lisa M Schneper, Archit N Verma, Juan E Castillo-Fernandez, Colter Mitchell, Jordana Tzenova Bell, Sara McLanahan, Daniel A. Notterman, Barbara E Engelhardt

Posted 21 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.20.444959

The Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) is a longitudinal cohort of ethnically diverse and primarily low socioeconomic status children and their families in the U.S. Here, we analyze DNA methylation data collected from 748 FFCWS participants in two waves of this study, corresponding to participant ages 9 and 15. Our primary goal is to leverage the DNA methylation data from these two time points to study methylation associated with two key traits in adolescent health that are over-represented in these data: Early puberty and teen depression. We first identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs) for depression and early puberty. We then identify DMRs for the interaction effects between these two conditions and age by including interaction terms in our regression models to understand how age-related changes in methylation are influenced by depression or early puberty. Next, we identify methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) using genotype data from the participants. We also identify meQTLs with epistatic effects with depression and early puberty. We find enrichment of our interaction meQTLs with functional categories of the genome that contribute to the heritability of co-morbid complex diseases. We replicate our meQTLs in data from the GoDMC study. This work leverages the important focus of the FFCWS data on disadvantaged children to shed light on the methylation states associated with teen depression and early puberty, and on how genetic regulation of methylation is affected in adolescents with these two conditions.

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