Abnormal DNA methylation in pluripotent stem cells from a patient with Prader-Willi syndrome results in neuronal differentiation defects

Stem Cell Res. 2021 May;53:102351. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2021.102351. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


DNA methylation is a common method of gene expression regulation, and this form of regulation occurs in the neurodevelopmental disorder Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Gene expression regulation via methylation is important for humans, although there is little understanding of the role of methylation in neuronal differentiation. We characterized the cellular differentiation potential of iPS cells derived from a patient with PWS with abnormal methylation (M-iPWS cells). A comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) array revealed that, unlike iPWS cells (deletion genes type), the abnormally methylated M-iPWS cells had no deletion in the15q11.2-q13 chromosome region. In addition, methylation-specific PCR showed that M-iPWS cells had strong methylation in CpG island of the small nuclear ribonucleoprotein polypeptide N (SNRPN) on both alleles. To assess the effect of abnormal methylation on cell differentiation, the M-iPWS and iPWS cells were induced to differentiate into embryoid bodies (EBs). The results suggest that iPWS and M-iPWS cells are defective at differentiation into ectoderm. Neural stem cells (NSCs) and neurons derived from M-iPWS cells had fewer NSCs and mature neurons with low expression of NSCs and neuronal markers. We conclude that expression of the downstream of genes in the PWS region regulated by methylation is involved in neuronal differentiation.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Embryoid body; Neural stem cell; Neuronal differentiation; Prader-Willi syndrome; iPS cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15 / genetics
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • DNA Methylation
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome* / genetics
  • snRNP Core Proteins / genetics


  • snRNP Core Proteins