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Local genotype influences DNA methylation at two asthma-associated regions, 5q31 and 17q21, in a founder effect population
  1. Abeer Al Tuwaijri1,
  2. Valérie Gagné-Ouellet2,
  3. Anne-Marie Madore2,
  4. Catherine Laprise2,
  5. Anna K Naumova1,3,4
  1. 1Department of Human Genetics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Département des sciences fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada
  3. 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  4. 4The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna K Naumova, The Research Institute of MUHC, 1001 Decarie Blvd, Bloc E, Room EM03226, Montreal, QC, Canada H4A 3J1; anna.naoumova{at}


Background Two asthma-associated regions 17q12–q21 and 5q31.1 harbour genes that show strong effect of genotype on expression levels. DNA methylation has an important role in gene regulation; therefore, we examined DNA methylation at promoters of 12 genes from 5q31 and 17q12–q21 regions. Our goal was to determine whether DNA methylation was associated with predisposition to asthma and whether such a relationship was independent from genetic association.

Methods Using sodium bisulfite sequencing and pyrosequencing methylation assays, we examined the effect of genotype on DNA methylation in peripheral blood cells from individuals from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean asthma familial collection and lymphoblastoid cell lines.

Results The local genotype influenced methylation levels of solute carrier family 22 (organic 3 cation/carnitine transporter) member 5 (SLC22A5), zona pellucida binding protein 2 (ZPBP2) and gasdermin A (GSDMA) promoter regions. The genotype had a dominant effect on ZPBP2 and GSDMA methylation with lower methylation levels in individuals that carry the asthma-predisposing alleles. Males also had lower methylation at the ZPBP2 promoter than females. We did not observe an effect of asthma status that would be independent of the genotype and the sex effects in the GSDMA, ZPBP2 and SLC22A5 regions; however, GSDMA and ZPBP2 data were suggestive of interaction between asthma and methylation levels in females and SLC22A5 in males.

Conclusions The local genotype influences methylation levels at SLC22A5 and ZPBP2 promoters independently of the asthma status. Further studies are necessary to confirm the relationship between GSDMA-ZPBP2 and SLC22A5 methylation and asthma in females and males separately.

  • Asthma
  • Complex traits
  • Epigenetics
  • Genetics

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