Monozygotic (MZ) twins provide a natural system for investigating developmental plasticity and the potential epigenetic origins of disease. A major difference in the intrauterine environment between MZ pairs is whether they share a common placenta or have separate placentas. Using DNA methylation measured at >400,000 points in the genome on the Illumina HumanMethylation450 array, we demonstrate that the co-twins of MZ pairs (average age of 14) that shared a common placenta (n = 18 pairs) have more similar DNA methylation levels in blood throughout the genome relative to those with separate placentas (n = 16 pairs). Functional annotation of the genomic regions that show significantly different correlation between monochorionic (MC) and dichorionic (DC) MZ pairs found an over-representation of genes involved in the regulation of transcription, neuronal development, and cellular differentiation. These results support the idea that prenatal environmental exposures may have a lasting effect on an individual's epigenetic landscape, and the potential for these changes to have functional consequences.
- DNA methylation
- monozygotic twins
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology