DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification that can alter gene expression, and the incidence can vary across developmental stages, inflammatory conditions, and sexes. The effects of viral maternal viral infection and sex on the DNA methylation patterns were studied in the hypothalamus of a pig model of immune activation during development. DNA methylation at single-base resolution in regions of high CpG density was measured on 24 individual hypothalamus samples using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. Differential over- and under-methylated sites were identified and annotated to proximal genes and corresponding biological processes. A total of 120 sites were differentially methylated (FDR-adjusted p-value < 0.05) between maternal infection or sex groups. Among the 66 sites differentially methylated between groups exposed to inflammatory signals and control, most sites were over-methylated in the challenged group and included sites in the promoter regions of genes SIRT3 and NRBP1. Among the 54 differentially methylated sites between females and males, most sites were over-methylated in females and included sites in the promoter region of genes TNC and EIF4G1. The analysis of the genes proximal to the differentially methylated sites suggested that biological processes potentially impacted include immune response, neuron migration and ensheathment, peptide signaling, adaptive thermogenesis, and tissue development. These results suggest that translational studies should consider that the prolonged effect of maternal infection during gestation may be enacted through epigenetic regulatory mechanisms that may differ between sexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number148329
StatePublished - Jun 5 2024


  • DNA methylation
  • Hypothalamus
  • RNA-seq
  • RRBS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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