IgG glycosylation and DNA methylation are interconnected with smoking

Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2018 Mar;1862(3):637-648. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.10.012. Epub 2017 Oct 18.


Background: Glycosylation is one of the most common post-translation modifications with large influences on protein structure and function. The effector function of immunoglobulin G (IgG) alters between pro- and anti-inflammatory, based on its glycosylation. IgG glycan synthesis is highly complex and dynamic.

Methods: With the use of two different analytical methods for assessing IgG glycosylation, we aim to elucidate the link between DNA methylation and glycosylation of IgG by means of epigenome-wide association studies. In total, 3000 individuals from 4 cohorts were analyzed.

Results: The overlap of the results from the two glycan measurement panels yielded DNA methylation of 7 CpG-sites on 5 genomic locations to be associated with IgG glycosylation: cg25189904 (chr.1, GNG12); cg05951221, cg21566642 and cg01940273 (chr.2, ALPPL2); cg05575921 (chr.5, AHRR); cg06126421 (6p21.33); and cg03636183 (chr.19, F2RL3). Mediation analyses with respect to smoking revealed that the effect of smoking on IgG glycosylation may be at least partially mediated via DNA methylation levels at these 7 CpG-sites.

Conclusion: Our results suggest the presence of an indirect link between DNA methylation and IgG glycosylation that may in part capture environmental exposures.

General significance: An epigenome-wide analysis conducted in four population-based cohorts revealed an association between DNA methylation and IgG glycosylation patterns. Presumably, DNA methylation mediates the effect of smoking on IgG glycosylation.

Keywords: DNA methylation; EWAS; IgG glycosylation; Mediation; Smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cohort Studies
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenomics / methods
  • Europe
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / chemistry*
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Polysaccharides / analysis
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Twin Studies as Topic


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Polysaccharides