Clonal heterogeneity at allelic methylation sites diagnostic for Prader- Willi and Angelman syndromes

Janine M LaSalle, R. J. Ritchie, H. Glatt, M. Lalande

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17 Scopus citations


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are developmental disorders resulting from the absence of the paternal or maternal contribution to the 15q11-13 region, respectively. Allele-specific methylation at D15S63 (PW71) has routinely been used as a diagnostic indicator of PWS and AS in DNA samples derived from peripheral blood. Extensive variation in allele-specific methylation patterns, however, has been observed at this site in different tissues, but the frequency or mechanism of this variation has remained uncharacterized. Herein, we have investigated the cellular basis of variation in methylation patterns at four sites of allelic methylation near SNRPN by using DNA samples derived from a panel of primary T lymphocyte clones. Interclonal variability was observed at three of these sites, including the diagnostic PW71 site. Changes in allele-specific methylation patterns occurred at a frequency of about one change in 50% of the cells every 22-25 doublings. In contrast, stable allele-specific methylation was observed in these clonal populations at exon 1 of SNRPN and the androgen receptor locus on the inactive X chromosome, suggesting that methylation at some CpG sites is more faithfully maintained than others. Clonal heterogeneity at PW71 was not an artifact of cell culture because the absence of allelic methylation was also observed in about 20% of the alleles in unstimulated peripheral blood. These results demonstrate that variation in allele-specific methylation at PW71 and other sites in the PWS/AS region appear to depend on the clonal complexity of the particular tissue and on the lack of strict maintenance of methylation within clones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1675-1680
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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