Age-associated DNA methylation in blood cells convey information on health status. However, the mechanisms that drive these changes in circulating cells and their relationships to gene regulation are unknown. We identified age-associated DNA methylation sites in six purified blood borne immune cell types (naïve B, naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, granulocytes, monocytes and NK cells) collected from healthy individuals interspersed over a wide age range. Of the thousands of age-associated sites, only 350 sites were differentially methylated in the same direction in all cell types and validated in an independent longitudinal cohort. Genes close to age-associated hypomethylated sites were enriched for collagen biosynthesis and complement cascade pathways, while genes close to hypermethylated sites mapped to neuronal pathways. In-silico analyses showed that in most cell types, the age-associated hypo- and hypermethylated sites were enriched for ARNT (HIF1β) and REST transcription factor motifs respectively, which are both master regulators of hypoxia response. To conclude, despite spatial heterogeneity, there is a commonality in the putative regulatory role with respect to transcription factor motifs and histone modifications at and around these sites. These features suggest that DNA methylation changes in healthy aging may be adaptive responses to fluctuations of oxygen availability.
DNA methylation EPIC 850k data are available at GEO under accession number GSE184269
Specification of human immune cell epigenetic identity by combinations of transcription factors (MethylationEPIC)NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE184269.
No external funding was received for this work.
Human subjects: GESTALT study was approved by the institutional review board of the National Institutes of Health. Informed consent as well as the consent to publish the data collected was obtained from every participant in the study. Since the study of gene expression and epigenetic regulation are essential aims of GESTALT, all participants were required to consent to DNA/RNA testing and storage at all visits in order to participate in the study. the GESTALT IRB approval number is 15-AG-0063.
- Gabrielle T Belz, University of Queensland, Australia
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A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). A hallmark of ALS/FTD pathology is the presence of dipeptide repeat (DPR) proteins, produced from both sense GGGGCC (poly-GA, poly-GP, poly-GR) and antisense CCCCGG (poly-PR, poly-PG, poly-PA) transcripts. Translation of sense DPRs, such as poly-GA and poly-GR, depends on non-canonical (non-AUG) initiation codons. Here, we provide evidence for canonical AUG-dependent translation of two antisense DPRs, poly-PR and poly-PG. A single AUG is required for synthesis of poly-PR, one of the most toxic DPRs. Unexpectedly, we found redundancy between three AUG codons necessary for poly-PG translation. Further, the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2D (EIF2D), which was previously implicated in sense DPR synthesis, is not required for AUG-dependent poly-PR or poly-PG translation, suggesting that distinct translation initiation factors control DPR synthesis from sense and antisense transcripts. Our findings on DPR synthesis from the C9ORF72 locus may be broadly applicable to many other nucleotide repeat expansion disorders.
Adulis, located on the Red Sea coast in present-day Eritrea, was a bustling trading centre between the first and seventh centuries CE. Several classical geographers--Agatharchides of Cnidus, Pliny the Elder, Strabo-noted the value of Adulis to Greco--Roman Egypt, particularly as an emporium for living animals, including baboons (Papio spp.). Though fragmentary, these accounts predict the Adulite origins of mummified baboons in Ptolemaic catacombs, while inviting questions on the geoprovenance of older (Late Period) baboons recovered from Gabbanat el-Qurud ('Valley of the Monkeys'), Egypt. Dated to ca. 800-540 BCE, these animals could extend the antiquity of Egyptian-Adulite trade by as much as five centuries. Previously, Dominy et al. (2020) used stable istope analysis to show that two New Kingdom specimens of P. hamadryas originate from the Horn of Africa. Here, we report the complete mitochondrial genomes from a mummified baboon from Gabbanat el-Qurud and 14 museum specimens with known provenance together with published georeferenced mitochondrial sequence data. Phylogenetic assignment connects the mummified baboon to modern populations of Papio hamadryas in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and eastern Sudan. This result, assuming geographical stability of phylogenetic clades, corroborates Greco-Roman historiographies by pointing toward present-day Eritrea, and by extension Adulis, as a source of baboons for Late Period Egyptians. It also establishes geographic continuity with baboons from the fabled Land of Punt (Dominy et al., 2020), giving weight to speculation that Punt and Adulis were essentially the same trading centres separated by a thousand years of history.