A number of neurodevelopmental syndromes are caused by mutations in genes encoding proteins that normally function in epigenetic regulation. Identification of epigenetic alterations occurring in these disorders could shed light on molecular pathways relevant to neurodevelopment.
Using a genome-wide approach, we identified genes with significant loss of DNA methylation in blood of males with intellectual disability and mutations in the X-linked
KDM5Cgene, encoding a histone H3 lysine 4 demethylase, in comparison to age/sex matched controls. Loss of DNA methylation in such individuals is consistent with known interactions between DNA methylation and H3 lysine 4 methylation. Further, loss of DNA methylation at the promoters of the three top candidate genes FBXL5, SCMH1, CACYBPwas not observed in more than 900 population controls. We also found that DNA methylation at these three genes in blood correlated with dosage of KDM5Cand its Y-linked homologue KDM5D. In addition, parallel sex-specific DNA methylation profiles in brain samples from control males and females were observed at FBXL5and CACYBP. Conclusions
We have, for the first time, identified epigenetic alterations in patient samples carrying a mutation in a gene involved in the regulation of histone modifications. These data support the concept that DNA methylation and H3 lysine 4 methylation are functionally interdependent. The data provide new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of intellectual disability. Further, our data suggest that some DNA methylation marks identified in blood can serve as biomarkers of epigenetic status in the brain.