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Distinctive topology of age-associated epigenetic drift in the human interactome

James West, Martin Widschwendter and Andrew E. Teschendorff
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 110, No. 35 (August 27, 2013), pp. 14138-14143
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42713066
Page Count: 6
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Distinctive topology of age-associated epigenetic drift in the human interactome
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Abstract

Recently, it has been demonstrated that DNA methylation, a covalent modification of DNA that can regulate gene expression, is modified as a function of age. However, the biological and clinical significance of this age-associated epigenetic drift is unclear. To shed light on the potential biological significance, we here adopt a systems approach and study the genes undergoing age-associated changes in DNA methylation in the context of a protein interaction network, focusing on their topological properties. In contrast to what has been observed for other age-related gene classes, including longevity-and disease-associated genes, as well as genes undergoing age-associated changes in gene expression, we here demonstrate that age-associated epigenetic drift occurs preferentially in genes that occupy peripheral network positions of exceptionally low connectivity. In addition, we show that these genes synergize topologically with disease and longevity genes, forming unexpectedly large network communities. Thus, these results point toward a potentially distinct mechanistic and biological role of DNA methylation in dictating the complex aging and disease phenotypes.

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