Zheleznyakova GY, Voisin S, Kiselev AV, Sällman Almén M, Xavier MJ, Maretina MA, Tishchenko LI, Fredriksson R, Baranov VS, Schiöth HB
Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 21 (9) 988-993 [2013-09-00; online 2013-01-10]
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a monogenic disorder that is subdivided into four different types and caused by survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) deletion. Discordant cases of SMA suggest that there exist additional severity modifying factors, apart from the SMN2 gene copy number. Here we performed the first genome-wide methylation profiling of SMA patients and healthy individuals to study the association of DNA methylation status with the severity of the SMA phenotype. We identified strong significant differences in methylation level between SMA patients and healthy controls in CpG sites close to the genes CHML, ARHGAP22, CYTSB, CDK2AP1 and SLC23A2. Interestingly, the CHML and ARHGAP22 genes are associated with the activity of Rab and Rho GTPases, which are important regulators of vesicle formation, actin dynamics, axonogenesis, processes that could be critical for SMA development. We suggest that epigenetic modifications may influence the severity of SMA and that these novel genetic positions could prove to be valuable biomarkers for the understanding of SMA pathogenesis.