Genome-wide DNA methylation alteration in prenatally stressed Brahman heifer calves with the advancement of age
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Possible phenotypic impairments associated with maternal stress during gestation in beef cattle may be explained by epigenetic effects. This study examined the impact of prenatal transportation stress on DNA methylation of lymphocytes of Brahman cows over the first 5 years of life. Methylation analysis through reduced representation bisulphite sequencing was conducted on DNA from lymphocytes from 28 paired samples from 6 prenatally stressed (PNS) and 8 control (Control) females obtained initially when they were 28 days of age and 5 years of age. There were 14,386 CpG (C = cytosine; p = phosphate; G = guanine) sites differentially methylated (P < 0.01) in 5-yr-old Control cows compared to their lymphocyte DNA at 28 days of age, this number was slightly decreased in 5-yr-old PNS with 13,378 CpG sites. Only 2,749 age-related differentially methylated CpG sites were seen within PNS females. There were 2,637 CpG sites differentially methylated (P < 0.01) in PNS cows relative to Controls at 5 years of age. There were differentially methylated genes in 5-yr-old cows that contributed similarly to altered gene pathways in both treatment groups. Canonical pathways altered in PNS compared to Control cows at 5 years of age were mostly related to development and growth, nervous system development and function, and immune response. Prenatal stress appeared to alter the epigenome in Brahman cows compared to Control at 5 years of age, which implies a persistent intervention in DNA methylation in lymphocytes, and may confer long-lasting effects on gene expression, and consequently relevant phenotypic changes.
author list (cited authors)
Cilkiz, K. Z., Baker, E. C., Riggs, P. K., Littlejohn, B. P., Long, C. R., Welsh, T. H., Randel, R. D., & Riley, D. G.