All mammals progress through similar physiological stages throughout life, from early development to puberty, aging, and death. Yet, the extent to which this conserved physiology reflects underlying genomic events is unclear. Here, we map the common methylation changes experienced by mammalian genomes as they age, focusing on comparison of humans with dogs, an emerging model of aging. Using oligo-capture sequencing, we characterize methylomes of 104 Labrador retrievers spanning a 16-year age range, achieving >150× coverage within mammalian syntenic blocks. Comparison with human methylomes reveals a nonlinear relationship that translates dog-to-human years and aligns the timing of major physiological milestones between the two species, with extension to mice. Conserved changes center on developmental gene networks, which are sufficient to translate age and the effects of anti-aging interventions across multiple mammals. These results establish methylation not only as a diagnostic age readout but also as a cross-species translator of physiological aging milestones. Wang et al. create an oligo-capture system to characterize the canine DNA methylome, targeting syntenic regions of the genome conserved across all mammals. Cross-species comparisons reveal a nonlinear epigenetic signature that aligns the progression of life events in dogs, humans, and mice. This conserved signature occurs primarily in modules of developmental genes, leading the team to create a conserved epigenetic clock model of aging that can be trained and operated across different species.
- epigenetic aging
- epigenetic clock
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology