Epimutation profiling in Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome: Relationship with assisted reproductive technology

Louise Tee, Derek H.K. Lim, Renuka P. Dias, Marie Odile Baudement, Amy A. Slater, Gail Kirby, Tom Hancocks, Helen Stewart, Carol Hardy, Fiona Macdonald, Eamonn R. Maher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a congenital overgrowth disorder associated with abnormalities in 11p15.5 imprinted genes. The most common cause is loss of methylation (epimutation) at the imprinting control centre 2 (IC2/KvDMR1). Most IC2 epimutations occur sporadically but an association with conception after assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has been reported. A subgroup of IC2 epimutation cases also harbour epimutations at other imprinting centres (ICs) outside of 11p15.5. We have investigated the relationship between these multiple epimutation cases (ME+), history of ART and clinical phenotype in a cohort of 187 BWS IC2 epimutation patients. Results: Methylation analysis at PLAGL1, MEST and IGF2R ICs demonstrated an over-representation of patients with abnormally low methylation (8.5%, 12% and 6% respectively). At IGF2R some patients (2%) had gain of methylation but this was also detected in controls. Though there were no significant correlations between the methylation index (MIs) at the three ICs tested, a subset of patients appeared to be susceptible to multiple epimutations (ME+) and 21.2% of ME + patients had been conceived by ART compared to 4.5% (P = 0.0033) without additional epimutations. Methylation array profiling (Illumina Goldengate®) of patients and controls (excluding 11p15.5 loci) demonstrated significant differences between patients and controls. No significant associations were found between aspects of the BWS phenotype and individual epimutations but we describe a case presenting with a post-ART BWS-like phenotype in which molecular analysis demonstrated loss of paternal allele methylation at the 11p15.5 IC1 locus (IC1 regulates imprinting of IGF2 and H19). Loss of paternal allele methylation at the IC1 is the molecular finding associated with Silver-Russell syndrome whereas BWS is associated with gain of maternal allele methylation at IC1. Further analysis demonstrated epimutations at PLAGL1 and MEST consistent with the hypothesis that the presence of multiple epimutations may be of clinical relevance. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the ME + subgroup of BWS patients are preferentially, but not exclusively, associated with a history of ART and that, though at present, there are no clear epigenotype-phenotype correlations for ME + BWS patients, non-11p15.5 IC epimutations can influence clinical phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalClinical epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2013


  • Assisted reproductive technology
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
  • Genetics
  • Imprinting


Dive into the research topics of 'Epimutation profiling in Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome: Relationship with assisted reproductive technology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this