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DOI: 10.3390/genes12091349; PMCID: PMC8472734


High levels of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) are often observed prior to a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We undertook a replication study to confirm CpG sites showing evidence of differential methylation in subjects positive vs. negative for ACPA, in a new subset of 112 individuals sampled from the population cohort and biobank CARTaGENE in Quebec, Canada. Targeted custom capture bisulfite sequencing was conducted at approximately 5.3 million CpGs located in regulatory or hypomethylated regions from whole blood; library and protocol improvements had been instituted between the original and this replication study, enabling better coverage and additional identification of differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Using binomial regression models, we identified 19,472 ACPA-associated differentially methylated cytosines (DMCs), of which 430 overlapped with the 1909 DMCs reported by the original study; 814 DMRs of relevance were clustered by grouping adjacent DMCs into regions. Furthermore, we performed an additional integrative analysis by looking at the DMRs that overlap with RA related loci published in the GWAS Catalog, and protein-coding genes associated with these DMRs were enriched in the biological process of cell adhesion and involved in immune-related pathways.

Journal Title

Genes (Basel)






DNA methylation; anti-citrullinated protein antibody positivity; cell adhesion; differentially methylated cytosines; differentially methylated regions; rheumatoid arthritis; targeted bisulfite sequencing


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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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