Congenital hydrocephalus is heterogeneous in its etiology, and in addition to a genetic component, has been shown to be caused by environmental factors. Until now, however, no methylation alterations of target genes have been connected with congenital hydrocephalus in humans. Frizzled 3(FZD3) is a planar cell polarity (PCP) gene required for PCP signaling. Partial restoration of frizzled 3 activities in FZD3 mutant mice results in hydrocephalus. To analyze the possible roles of epigenetic modifications of the FZD3 gene in congenital hydrocephalus pathogenesis, DNA methylation in the promoter region of FZD3 was assayed using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Gene expression and chromatin accessibility were also determined to assess the role of methylation alterations. Our study found methylation levels of the FZD3 gene were increased in congenital hydrocephalus, especially in males (10.57 ± 3.90 vs. 7.08 ± 0.94, p=0.001). Hypermethylation of FZD3 increased congenital hydrocephalus risk, with an odds ratio of 10.125 (p=0.003). Aberrant methylation modification of FZD3 altered both chromatin structure in this region and FZD3 expression levels. Totally, aberrant methylation modification of the FZD3 gene increases the risk of congenital hydrocephalus by altering chromatin structure and disturbing gene expression.
Keywords: Chromatin structure; Congenital hydrocephalus (CH); DNA methylation; Frizzled 3(FZD3) gene.
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