Monozygotic twins (MZs) share an identical genomic sequence, which makes it impossible to discriminate one another with conventional genetic markers like STRs. On the other hand, phenotypic discordance between MZs implies the existence of different epigenetic characteristics. DNA methylation, an essential epigenetic modification, however, might be a potential biomarker to solve the forensic puzzle. In this study, we examined 22 pairs of MZs with a methylation BeadChip including 27,578 CpG sites. The results suggested that MZs exhibited remarkable differences of genome-wide 5-methylcytosine. According to a set of criteria of selection, 92 CpG sites with significant differences of methylation status within MZs were identified from the global epigenome. In conclusion, this pilot study suggested that CpG methylation profile could be a useful biomarker in individual identification of MZs.
Forensic genetics Individual identification Monozygotic twins DNA methylation
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
We are grateful to all volunteers who provided samples for this study. This study was supported by grants from National Key Technology R&D Program of Ministry of Science and Technology of the People`s Republic of China (2012BAK16B01) and the National Nature Science Foundation, People`s Republic of China (nos. 81222041 and 81172908).
von Wurmb-Schwark N, Schwark T, Christiansen L, Lorenz D, Oehmichen M (2004) The use of different multiplex PCRs for twin zygosity determination and its application in forensic trace analysis. Leg Med 6(2):125–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Neel JV, Schull WJ (1954) Human Heredity. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
Petronis A, Gottesman II, Kan P, Kennedy JL, Basile VS, Paterson AD et al (2003) Monozygotic twins exhibit numerous epigenetic differences: clues to twin discordance? Schizophr Bull 29(1):169–178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wong AH, Gottesman II, Petronis A (2005) Phenotypic differences in genetically identical organisms: the epigenetic perspective. Hum Mol Genet 14(Spec No 1):R11–R18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fraga MF, Ballestar E, Paz MF, Ropero S, Setien F, Ballestar ML et al (2005) Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102(30):10604–10609PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaminsky ZA, Tang T, Wang SC, Ptak C, Oh GH, Wong AH et al (2009) DNA methylation profiles in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Nat Genet 41(2):240–245PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaminsky Z, Petronis A, Wang SC, Levine B, Ghaffar O, Floden D et al (2008) Epigenetics of personality traits: an illustrative study of identical twins discordant for risk-taking behavior. Twin Res Hum Genet 11(1):1–11PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baranzini SE, Mudge J, van Velkinburgh JC, Khankhanian P, Khrebtukova I, Miller NA et al (2010) Genome, epigenome and RNA sequences of monozygotic twins discordant for multiple sclerosis. Nature 464(7293):1351–1356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wojdacz TK, Dobrovic A (2007) Methylation-sensitive high resolution melting (MS-HRM): a new approach for sensitive and high-throughput assessment of methylation. Nucleic Acids Res 35(6):e41PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bibikova M, Lin Z, Zhou L, Chudin E, Garcia EW, Wu B et al (2006) High-throughput DNA methylation profiling using universal bead arrays. Genome Res 16(3):383–393PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zhao SM, Zhang SH, Li CT (2010) InDel_typer30: a multiplex PCR system for DNA identification among five Chinese populations. Fa Yi Xue Za Zhi 26(5):343–348, 356PubMedGoogle Scholar
Li CT, Zhang SH, Zhao SM (2011) Genetic analysis of 30 InDel markers for forensic use in five different Chinese populations. Genet Mol Res 10:964–979PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li CT, Li L, Zhao ZM, Lin Y, Que TZ, Liu Y et al (2009) Genetic polymorphism of 17 STR loci for forensic use in Chinese population from Shanghai in East China. Forensic Sci Int Genet 3:e117–e118PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nautiyal S, Carlton VE, Lu Y, Ireland JS, Flaucher D, Moorhead M et al (2010) High-throughput method for analyzing methylation of CpGs in targeted genomic regions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(28):12587–12592PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kim MS, Louwagie J, Carvalho B, Terhaar Sive Droste JS, Park HL, Chae YK et al (2009) Promoter DNA methylation of oncostatin m receptor-beta as a novel diagnostic and therapeutic marker in colon cancer. PLoS ONE 4(8):e6555PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carrel L, Willard HF (2005) X-inactivation profile reveals extensive variability in X-linked gene expression in females. Nature 434:400–404PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Riggs AD, Xiong Z, Wang L, LeBon JM (1998) Methylation dynamics, epigenetic fidelity and X chromosome structure. Novartis Found Symp 214:214–225PubMedGoogle Scholar
Ushijima T, Watanabe N, Okochi E, Kaneda A, Sugimura T, Miyamoto K (2003) Fidelity of the methylation pattern and its variation in the genome. Genome Res 13(5):868–874PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaenisch R, Bird A (2003) Epigenetic regulation of gene expression: how the genome integrates intrinsic and environmental signals. Nat Genet 33:245–254PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar