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Michal Kabza, Justyna A. Karolak, Malgorzata Rydzanicz, Monika Udziela, Piotr Gasperowicz, Rafal Ploski, Jacek P. Szaflik, Marzena Gajecka; Multiple Differentially Methylated Regions Specific to Keratoconus Explain Known Keratoconus Linkage Loci. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(5):1501-1509. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-25916.
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Keratoconus (KTCN) is a complex eye disorder resulting in loss of visual function. Its development is affected by genetic and environmental components. The aim of this study was to unravel the role of epigenetic factors in KTCN.
To verify if DNA methylation may play a role in KTCN development, reduced representation bisulfite sequencing of five KTCN and five non-KTCN human corneas was performed.
Multiple KTCN-specific differentially methylated regions were detected and many of them overlap previously identified KTCN linkage loci (3p14.3, 5q35.2, 13q32.3, 15q24.1, and 20p13) and chromosome arms that have been linked to KTCN (2q, 4q, 5p, 9p, 14q, and 17q). Reanalysis of the previously described RNA sequencing dataset of 25 KTCN and 25 non-KTCN human corneas revealed that 12 genes downregulated in KTCN and 6 upregulated genes overlapped or were located in the near vicinity of the identified differentially methylated regions. Particularly interesting were the DNA methylation changes in WNT3 and WNT5A encoding Wnt ligands, as they provide a potential explanation for the Wnt signaling pathway dysregulation observed in KTCN.
We presented the results of data analysis from the first study of DNA methylation changes in human KTCN corneas compared to non-KTCN samples. We were able to identify genomic regions with distinct patterns of DNA hypo- and hypermethylation and link them to previously found KTCN susceptibility loci as well as transcriptomic disruption of Wnt signaling pathway observed in KTCN.
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