Hyper- and hypomethylation at the IGF2-H19 imprinting control region (ICR) result in reciprocal changes in IGF2-H19 expression and the two contrasting growth disorders, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) and Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS). DNA methylation of the ICR controls the reciprocal imprinting of IGF2 and H19 by preventing the binding of the insulator protein, CTCF. We here show that local changes in histone modifications and CTCF-cohesin binding at the ICR in BWS and SRS together with DNA methylation correlate with the higher order chromatin structure at the locus. In lymphoblastoid cells from control individuals, we found the repressive histone H3K9me3 and H4K20me3 marks associated with the methylated paternal ICR allele and the bivalent H3K4me2/H3K27me3 mark together with H3K9ac and CTCF-cohesin associated with the non-methylated maternal allele. In patient-derived cell lines, the mat/pat asymmetric distribution of these epigenetic marks was lost with H3K9me3 and H4K20me3 becoming biallelic in the BWS and H3K4me2, H3K27me3 and H3K9ac together with CTCF-cohesin becoming biallelic in the SRS. We further show that in BWS and SRS cells, there is opposing chromatin looping conformation mediated by CTCF-cohesin binding sites surrounding the locus. In normal cells, lack of CTCF-cohesin binding at the paternal ICR is associated with monoallelic interaction between two CTCF sites flanking the locus. CTCF-cohesin binding at the maternal ICR blocks this interaction by associating with the CTCF site downstream of the enhancers. The two alternative chromatin conformations are differently favoured in BWS and SRS likely predisposing the locus to the activation of IGF2 or H19, respectively. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press.
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