Differential DNA methylation and mRNA transcription in gingival tissues in periodontal health and disease

J Clin Periodontol. 2021 Sep;48(9):1152-1164. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.13504. Epub 2021 Jul 11.


Aim: We investigated differential DNA methylation in gingival tissues in periodontal health, gingivitis, and periodontitis, and its association with differential mRNA expression.

Materials and methods: Gingival tissues were harvested from individuals and sites with clinically healthy and intact periodontium, gingivitis, and periodontitis. Samples were processed for differential DNA methylation and mRNA expression using the IlluminaEPIC (850 K) and the IlluminaHiSeq2000 platforms, respectively. Across the three phenotypes, we identified differentially methylated CpG sites and regions, differentially expressed genes (DEGs), and genes with concomitant differential methylation at their promoters and expression were identified. The findings were validated using our earlier databases using HG-U133Plus2.0Affymetrix microarrays and Illumina (450 K) methylation arrays.

Results: We observed 43,631 differentially methylated positions (DMPs) between periodontitis and health, and 536 DMPs between gingivitis and health (FDR < 0.05). On the mRNA level, statistically significant DEGs were observed only between periodontitis and health (n = 126). Twelve DEGs between periodontitis and health (DCC, KCNA3, KCNA2, RIMS2, HOXB7, PNOC, IRX1, JSRP1, TBX1, OPCML, CECR1, SCN4B) were also differentially methylated between the two phenotypes. Spearman correlations between methylation and expression in the EPIC/mRNAseq dataset were largely replicated in the 450 K/Affymetrix datasets.

Conclusions: Concomitant study of DNA methylation and gene expression patterns may identify genes whose expression is epigenetically regulated in periodontitis.

Keywords: epigenetics; gingivitis; pathogenesis; periodontitis; transcriptomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Gingivitis* / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Humans
  • Periodontitis* / genetics
  • Periodontium
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription Factors


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • HOXB7 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • IRX1 protein, human
  • OPCML protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors