Non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCLP) is the most common craniofacial birth defect. The etiology of NSCLP is complex with multiple genes and environmental factors playing causal roles. Although studies have identified numerous genetic markers associated with NSCLP, the role of epigenetic variation remains relatively unexplored. Because of their identical DNA sequences, monozygotic (MZ) twins discordant for NSCLP are an ideal model for examining the potential contribution of DNA methylation to non-syndromic orofacial clefting. In this study, we compared the patterns of whole genome DNA methylation in six MZ twin pairs discordant for NSCLP. Differentially methylated positions (DMPs) and regions (DMRs) were identified in NSCLP candidate genes, including differential methylation in MAFB and ZEB2 in two independent MZ twin pairs. In addition to DNA methylation differences in NSCLP candidate genes, we found common differential methylation in genes belonging to the Hippo signaling pathway, implicating this mechanosensory pathway in the etiology of NSCLP. The results of this novel approach using MZ twins discordant for NSCLP suggests that differential methylation is one mechanism contributing to NSCLP, meriting future studies on the role of DNA methylation in familial and sporadic NSCLP.
- non-syndromic cleft lip and cleft palate
- whole genome bisulfite sequencing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology