Tissue-specific methylation patterns and expression of the human apolipoprotein AI gene

Ruth Shemer, Annemarie Walsh, Shlomo Eisenberg, Jan L. Breslow, Aharon Razin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


To better understand the tissue-specific expression of the human apolipoprotein (apo)AI gene, we performed a detailed analysis of the pattern of methylation of the gene in various human adult and embryonic tissues and in tissues of transgenic mice harboring the human apo-AI gene. In addition, the gene was analyzed also in liver and intestine-derived human cell lines (HepG2 and Caco2, respectively). Using methyl-sensitive restriction enzymes (HpaII, HhaI, and SmaI) and the appropriate radioactive probes, we were able to determine separately the status of methylation of the 5′-end, the body of the gene, and 3′-end flanking sequences. The apo-AI gene in tissues that express the gene was undermethylated at the 5′-end. However, the 5′-end of the gene in sperm and in all adult tissues that do not express the gene was heavily methylated. The body of the gene which contains a CpG island and the 3′-end flanking sequences were, in general, hypomethylated except for specific sites that showed partial methylation. In contrast, while the gene showed tissue-specific expression already in a 12-week-old embryo, the 5′-end was invariably hypomethylated in all tissues of the embryo. A human apo-AI transgene has recently been shown to be active exclusively in the liver, while the endogenous gene is expressed in both liver and intestine (6). We show here that the 5′-end of the apo-AI transgene was methylated in all tissues of the mouse (including intestine) except liver. The results presented here demonstrate a clear correlation between hypomethylation of the 5′-end and activity of the apo-AI gene. However, the observed methylation pattern of the gene in embryonic tissues suggests that tissue-specific expression precedes formation of the tissue-specific methylation pattern.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1010-1015
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 1990


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