Experimental intrauterine growth restriction induces alterations in DNA methylation and gene expression in pancreatic islets of rats

Reid F. Thompson, Melissa J. Fazzari, Hongshun Niu, Nir Barzilai, Rebecca A. Simmons, John M. Greally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) increases susceptibility to age-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and is associated with permanent and progressive changes in gene expression. Our study was designed to test whether epigenomic dysregulation mediates the cellular memory of this intrauterine event. To test this hypothesis, we isolated pancreatic islets from control and IUGR (induced by bilateral uterine artery ligation at day 18 of fetal life) animals at 7 weeks of age. Using the HELP (HpaII tiny fragment enrichment by ligation-mediated PCR) assay, we generated the first DNA methylation map at almost 1 million unique sites throughout the rat genome in normal pancreatic islet cells, allowing us to identify the changes that occur as a consequence of IUGR.Wevalidated candidate dysregulated loci with quantitative assays of cytosine methylation and gene expression. IUGR changes cytosine methylation at ∼1,400 loci (false discovery rate of 4.2%) in male rats at 7 weeks of age, preceding the development of diabetes and thus representing candidate loci for mediating the pathogenesis of metabolic disease that occurs later in life. Epigenetic dysregulation occurred preferentially at conserved intergenic sequences, frequently near genes regulating processes known to be abnormal in IUGR islets, such as vascularization, β-cell proliferation, insulin secretion, and cell death, associated with concordant changes in mRNA expression. These results demonstrate that epigenetic dysregulation is a strong candidate for propagating the cellular memory of intrauterine events, causing changes in expression of nearby genes and long term susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15111-15118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 14 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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