Among several genetic mutations known to cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9orf72 gene is the most common. In approximately 30% of C9orf72-ALS cases, 5-methylcytosine (5mC) levels within the C9orf72 promoter are increased, resulting in a modestly attenuated phenotype. The developmental timing of C9orf72 promoter hypermethylation and the reason why it occurs in only a subset of patients remain unknown. In order to model the acquisition of C9orf72 hypermethylation and examine the potential role of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from an ALS patient with C9orf72 promoter hypermethylation. Our data show that 5mC levels are reduced by reprogramming and then re-acquired upon neuronal specification, while 5hmC levels increase following reprogramming and are highest in iPSCs and motor neurons. We confirmed the presence of 5hmC within the C9orf72 promoter in post-mortem brain tissues of hypermethylated patients. These findings show that iPSCs are a valuable model system for examining epigenetic perturbations caused by the C9orf72 mutation and reveal a potential role for cytosine demethylation.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cytosine hydroxymethylation
- Repeat expansion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience