Abstracts (first author)
A genome-wide comparative study of DNA methylation in great apes
It has been hypothesized that differences between humans and their closet relatives may be explained by changes in gene regulation rather in primary genome sequence. Epigenetic alterations are involved in many biological processes and have been under-explored in comparative genomics. Specifically, DNA methylation is still poorly understood in the context of recent human evolution. In this study, we performed a comparative analysis of CpG methylation patterns between 9 humans and 23 primates including all four species of great apes (chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla and orangutan) using Illumina Methylation450 bead arrays. Using this approach, we were able to study the dynamics of DNA methylation and to identify regions showing species-specific methylation pattern among the great apes, including ~130 genes with a pattern unique to human. We also identified a significant positive relationship between the rate of coding variation and alterations of methylation at the promoter level, indicative of co-occurrence between evolution of protein sequence and gene regulation.