Epimutation in inherited metabolic disorders: the influence of aberrant transcription in adjacent genes

Human Genetics(2022)

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Epigenetic diseases can be produced by a stable alteration, called an epimutation, in DNA methylation, in which epigenome alterations are directly involved in the underlying molecular mechanisms of the disease. This review focuses on the epigenetics of two inherited metabolic diseases, epi-cblC , an inherited metabolic disorder of cobalamin (vitamin B 12 ) metabolism, and alpha-thalassemia type α-ZF, an inherited disorder of α2-globin synthesis, with a particular interest in the role of aberrant antisense transcription of flanking genes in the generation of epimutations in CpG islands of gene promoters. In both disorders, the epimutation is triggered by an aberrant antisense transcription through the promoter, which produces an H3K36me3 histone mark involved in the recruitment of DNA methyltransferases. It results from diverse genetic alterations. In alpha-thalassemia type α-ZF, a deletion removes HBA1 and HBQ1 genes and juxtaposes the antisense LUC7L gene to the HBA2 gene. In epi-cblC , the epimutation in the MMACHC promoter is produced by mutations in the antisense flanking gene PRDX1 , which induces a prolonged antisense transcription through the MMACHC promoter. The presence of the epimutation in sperm, its transgenerational inheritance via the mutated PRDX1, and the high expression of PRDX1 in spermatogonia but its nearly undetectable transcription in spermatids and spermatocytes, suggest that the epimutation could be maintained during germline reprogramming and despite removal of aberrant transcription. The epivariation seen in the MMACHC promoter (0.95 × 10 –3 ) is highly frequent compared to epivariations affecting other genes of the Online Catalog of Human Genes and Genetic Disorders in an epigenome-wide dataset of 23,116 individuals. This and the comparison of epigrams of two monozygotic twins suggest that the aberrant transcription could also be influenced by post-zygotic environmental exposures.
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