Journal Article

Methylation of L1Hs promoters is lower on the inactive X, has a tendency of being higher on autosomes in smaller genomes and shows inter-individual variability at some loci

Heike Singer, Maja Walier, Nicole Nüsgen, Christian Meesters, Felix Schreiner, Joachim Woelfle, Rolf Fimmers, Thomas Wienker, Vera M. Kalscheuer, Tim Becker, Rainer Schwaab, Johannes Oldenburg and Osman El-Maarri

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 219-235
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:

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LINE-1 repeats account for ∼17% of the human genome. Little is known about their individual methylation patterns, because their repetitive, almost identical sequences make them difficult to be individually targeted. Here, we used bisulfite conversion to study methylation at individual LINE-1 repeats. The loci studied included 39 X-linked loci and 5 autosomal loci. On the X chromosome in women, we found statistically significant less methylation at almost all L1Hs compared with men. Methylation at L1P and L1M did not correlate with the inactivation status of the host DNA, while the majority of L1Hs that were possible to be studied lie in inactivated regions. To investigate whether the male–female differences at L1Hs on the X are linked to the inactivation process itself rather than to a mere influence of gender, we analyzed six of the L1Hs loci on the X chromosome in Turners and Klinefelters which have female and male phenotype, respectively, but with reversed number of X chromosomes. We could confirm that all samples with two X chromosomes are hypomethylated at the L1Hs loci. Therefore, the inactive X is hypomethylated at L1Hs; the latter could play an exclusive role in the X chromosome inactivation process. At autosomal L1Hs, methylation levels showed a correlation tendency between methylation level and genome size, with higher methylation observed at most loci in individuals with one X chromosome and the lowest in XXY individuals. In summary, loci-specific LINE-1 methylation levels show considerable plasticity and depend on genomic position and constitution.

Journal Article.  9438 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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