BACKGROUND: In humans, the nc886 locus is a polymorphically imprinted metastable epiallele. Periconceptional conditions have an effect on the methylation status of nc886, and further, this methylation status is associated with health outcomes in later life, in line with the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis. Animal models would offer opportunities to study the associations between periconceptional conditions, nc886 methylation status and metabolic phenotypes further. Thus, we set out to investigate the methylation pattern of the nc886 locus in non-human mammals.
DATA: We obtained DNA methylation data from the data repository GEO for mammals, whose nc886 gene included all three major parts of nc886 and had sequency similarity of over 80% with the human nc886. Our final sample set consisted of DNA methylation data from humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutangs, baboons, macaques, vervets, marmosets and guinea pigs.
RESULTS: In human data sets the methylation pattern of nc886 locus followed the expected bimodal distribution, indicative of polymorphic imprinting. In great apes, we identified a unimodal DNA methylation pattern with 50% methylation level in all individuals and in all subspecies. In Old World monkeys, the between individual variation was greater and methylation on average was close to 60%. In guinea pigs the region around the nc886 homologue was non-methylated. Results obtained from the sequence comparison of the CTCF binding sites flanking the nc886 gene support the results on the DNA methylation data.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that unlike in humans, nc886 is not a polymorphically imprinted metastable epiallele in non-human primates or in guinea pigs, thus implying that animal models are not applicable for nc886 research. The obtained data suggests that the nc886 region may be classically imprinted in great apes, and potentially also in Old World monkeys, but not in guinea pigs.
- Jufo-taso 1