DNA methylation in gene promoter regions influences gene expression. Circadian clock genes play an important role in the formation of a biological clock and aberrant methylation of these genes contributes to several disorders. In this study, we examined forensic autopsy specimens to determine whether DNA methylation status in the promoter regions of nine circadian clock genes (Per1, Per2, Per3, Cry1, Cry2, Bmal1, Clock, Tim, and Ck1e) is related to a change in acquired diathesis and/or causes of death. Methylation-specific PCR and direct sequencing methods revealed that the promoters of Per1, Cry2, Bmal1, Clock, and Ck1e were unmethylated in all the forensic autopsy specimens, while the promoters of Per2, Per3, Cry1, and Tim were partially methylated. Methylation status varied between individuals and between tissues in the same patient. A detailed analysis of methylation patterns in the Cry1 promoter region revealed that the patterns also varied between individuals and the Cry1 promoter had highly methylated patterns in two cases that had been exposed to methamphetamine. These results suggest that the methylation status of clock gene promoters varies between individuals. Methamphetamine use may influence methylation in the Cry1 gene promoter region and disturb circadian rhythmicity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects