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A combination of transcriptome and methylation analyses reveals embryologically-relevant candidate genes in MRKH patients

Author(s): Rall Katharina | Barresi Gianmaria | Walter Michael | Poths Sven | Haebig Karina | Schaeferhoff Karin | Schoenfisch Birgitt | Riess Olaf | Wallwiener Diethelm | Bonin Michael | Brucker Sara

Journal: Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
ISSN 1750-1172

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 32;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background The Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome is present in at least 1 out of 4,500 female live births and is the second most common cause for primary amenorrhea. It is characterized by vaginal and uterine aplasia in an XX individual with normal secondary characteristics. It has long been considered a sporadic anomaly, but familial clustering occurs. Several candidate genes have been studied although no single factor has yet been identified. Cases of discordant monozygotic twins suggest that the involvement of epigenetic factors is more likely. Methods Differences in gene expression and methylation patterns of uterine tissue between eight MRKH patients and eight controls were identified using whole-genome microarray analyses. Results obtained by expression and methylation arrays were confirmed by qRT-PCR and pyrosequencing. Results We delineated 293 differentially expressed and 194 differentially methylated genes of which nine overlap in both groups. These nine genes are mainly embryologically relevant for the development of the female genital tract. Conclusion Our study used, for the first time, a combined whole-genome expression and methylation approach to reveal the etiology of the MRKH syndrome. The findings suggest that either deficient estrogen receptors or the ectopic expression of certain HOXA genes might lead to abnormal development of the female reproductive tract. In utero exposure to endocrine disruptors or abnormally high maternal hormone levels might cause ectopic expression or anterior transformation of HOXA genes. It is, however, also possible that different factors influence the anti-Mullerian hormone promoter activity during embryological development causing regression of the Müllerian ducts. Thus, our data stimulate new research directions to decipher the pathogenic basis of MRKH syndrome.
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