The recent increase in babies born with brain and eye malformations in Brazil is associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in utero. ZIKV alters host DNA methylation in vitro. Using genome-wide DNA methylation profiling we compared 18 babies born with congenital ZIKV microcephaly with 20 controls. We found ZIKV-associated alteration of host methylation patterns, notably at RABGAP1L which is important in brain development, at viral host immunity genes MX1 and ISG15, and in an epigenetic module containing the causal microcephaly gene MCPH1. Our data support the hypothesis that clinical signs of congenital ZIKV are associated with changes in DNA methylation.
Genetics and Health