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Lifestyle and Genetic Factors Modify Parent-of-Origin Effects on the Human Methylome

By Yanni Zeng, Carmen Amador, Chenhao Gao, Rosie Walker, Stewart W Morris, Archie Campbell, Azra Frkatovi_, Rebecca A. Madden, Mark J Adams, Shuai He, Andrew D Bretherick, Caroline Hayward, David J Porteous, James F Wilson, Kathryn L Evans, Andrew M Mcintosh, Pau Navarro, Chris S Haley

Posted 30 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.28.450122

Background: parent-of-origin effects (POE) play important roles in development and complex disease and thus understanding their regulation and associated molecular and phenotypic variation are warranted. Previous studies have mainly focused on the detection of genomic regions or phenotypes regulated by POE. Understanding whether POE may be modified by environmental or genetic exposures is important for understanding of the source of POE-associated variation, but only a few case studies addressing these modifiable POE exist. Methods: in order to understand this high order of POE regulation, we screened 101 genetic and environmental factors such as "predicted mRNA expression levels" of DNA methylation/imprinting machinery genes and early/late lifestyle/environmental exposures. POE-mQTL-modifier interaction models were proposed to test the potential of these factors to modify POE at DNA methylation using data from Generation Scotland: The Scottish Family Health Study(N=2315). Results: a set of vulnerable/modifiable POE-CpGs were identified (modifiable-POE-regulated CpGs, N=3). Four factors, "lifetime smoking status" and "predicted mRNA expression levels" of TET2, SIRT1 and KDM1A, were found to significantly modify the POE on the three CpGs in both discovery and replication datasets. Importantly, the POE on one of the CpGs were modified by both genetic and environmental factors. We further identified plasma protein and health-related phenotypes associated with the methylation level of one of the identified CpGs. Conclusions: the modifiable POE identified here revealed an important yet indirect path through which genetic background and environmental exposures introduce their effect on DNA methylation, motivating future comprehensive evaluation of the role of these modifiers in complex diseases.

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