Program in Genomics of Differentiation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA, Institute of Biology, National Centre for Scientific Research 'Demokritos', Agia Paraskevi, 153 10, Attikis, Greece, Perinatology Research Branch and Molecular Genomics Laboratory, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Alterations in DNA methylation have been reported to occur during development and aging; however, much remains to be learned regarding post-natal and age-associated epigenome dynamics, and few if any investigations have compared human methylome patterns on a whole genome basis in cells from newborns and adults. The aim of this study was to reveal genomic regions with distinct structure and sequence characteristics that render them subject to dynamic post-natal developmental remodeling or age-related dysregulation of epigenome structure. DNA samples derived from peripheral blood monocytes and in vitro differentiated dendritic cells were analyzed by methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) or, for selected loci, bisulfite modification, followed by next generation sequencing. Regions of interest that emerged from the analysis included tandem or interspersed-tandem gene sequence repeats (PCDHG, FAM90A, HRNR, ECEL1P2), and genes with strong homology to other family members elsewhere in the genome (FZD1, FZD7 and FGF17). Our results raise the possibility that selected gene sequences with highly homologous copies may serve to facilitate, perhaps even provide a clock-like function for, developmental and age-related epigenome remodeling. If so, this would represent a fundamental feature of genome architecture in higher eukaryotic organisms.