Despite recent progress in molecular karyotyping and clinical sequencing the cause of intellectual disability in a considerable subset of individuals affected by this phenotype remains elusive. As intellectual disability is also a feature of various imprinting disorders and some monogenic forms of intellectual disability are caused by epigenetic modifiers we hypothesized that changes in DNA methylation might be associated with or even causative in some cases of intellectual disability. Therefore, we performed a DNA methylation analysis of peripheral blood samples from 82 patients with intellectual disability and additional features using the HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. The findings were compared to that of 19 normal controls. Differentially methylated loci were validated by bisulfite pyrosequencing. On a global level, we failed to detect a robust DNA methylation signature segregating individuals with intellectual disability from controls. Using an individual approach, we identified 157 regions showing individual DNA methylation changes in at least one patient. These correlated to 107 genes including genes linked to conditions associated with intellectual disability, namely COLEC11, SHANK2, GLI2 and KCNQ2, as well as imprinted genes like FAM50B and MEG3. The latter was suggestive of an undiagnosed Temple syndrome which could be confirmed by diagnostic tests. Subsequent in-depth analysis of imprinted loci revealed DNA methylation changes at additional imprinted loci, i.e. PPIEL, IGF2R, MEG8 and MCTS2/HM13, in up to five patients. Our findings indicate that imprinting disorders are rare but probably under-diagnosed in patients with intellectual disability and moreover point to DNA methylation changes as potential alternative means to identify deregulated genes involved in the pathogenesis of intellectual disability.
Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren
- Querschnittsbereich: Medizinische Genetik