Genome-wide DNA methylation map of human neutrophils reveals widespread inter-individual epigenetic variation

Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 27;5:17328. doi: 10.1038/srep17328.


The extent of variation in DNA methylation patterns in healthy individuals is not yet well documented. Identification of inter-individual epigenetic variation is important for understanding phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility. Using neutrophils from a cohort of healthy individuals, we generated base-resolution DNA methylation maps to document inter-individual epigenetic variation. We identified 12851 autosomal inter-individual variably methylated fragments (iVMFs). Gene promoters were the least variable, whereas gene body and upstream regions showed higher variation in DNA methylation. The iVMFs were relatively enriched in repetitive elements compared to non-iVMFs, and were associated with genome regulation and chromatin function elements. Further, variably methylated genes were disproportionately associated with regulation of transcription, responsive function and signal transduction pathways. Transcriptome analysis indicates that iVMF methylation at differentially expressed exons has a positive correlation and local effect on the inclusion of that exon in the mRNA transcript.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Exons
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcriptome*


  • Chromatin