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Differential DNA Methylation of Growth Factors in Antlers of Sika Deer and Reindeer

Differential DNA Methylation of Growth Factors in Antlers of Sika Deer and Reindeer

Jian-Cheng Zhai1,2, Sheng-Nan Wang1,3, Qiang-Hui Wang1, Yan-Ling Xia1, Wei-Shi Liu1, Ya-Jie Yin4 and He-Ping Li1*

1College of Wildlife and Protected Area, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
2Nature Reserve Planning and Research Institute, East China University of Technology, Nanchang 330013, China
3Key Laboratory of National Forestry and Grassland Administration on Forest Ecosystem Protection and Restoration of Poyang Lake Watershed, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang 330045, China
4College of Bioengineering, Daqing Normal University, Daqing 163712, China
Jian-Cheng Zhai and Sheng-Nan Wang contributed equally to this work.
*      Corresponding author:


Reindeer is the only deer species in both sexes grow antlers. Many apparent differences exist in antlers of female and male reindeer and sika deer. Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF1), Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) are essential for antler growth. To investigate whether epigenetic regulation of the growth factors is important in growth of sika deer, female and male reindeer antlers, methylation status were evaluated using bisulfite sequencing PCR (BSP). The 5´ flanking regions of IGF1, KGF and NGF were cloned from reindeer and sika deer antlers, and the lengths were 2089bp/2107bp, 1474bp/1474bp and 865bp/865bp, respectively. Based on bioinformatics analysis, the regions of IGF1 (-50bp ~ +615bp), KGF (-285bp ~ +207bp) and NGF (-388bp ~ +109bp) were selected for studying the methylation status. The antler mesenchyme of male reindeer was the only methylation sample in IGF1 (2.23 ± 0.92%), significantly higher in methylation level than that of female reindeer and sika deer (0.01<P<0.05). Methylation levels of KGF in antler mesenchyme were highly significantly higher in male reindeer and sika deer (45.53 ± 3.87% and 42.20 ± 1.91%, respectively), compared to female reindeer (0.00 ± 0.00%, P<0.01). Methylation level of NGF in antler mesenchyme was highly significantly higher in female reindeer (33.90 ± 3.57%), compared to male reindeer and sika deer (17.20 ± 3.57% and 21.57 ± 1.21%, respectively. P<0.01). We concluded that different methylation patterns of IGF1, KGF and NGF existed among antler mesenchyme of sika deer, female and male reindeer, and KGF might be an important candidate for regulating the unique growth of female reindeer antler.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 55, Iss. 2, Pages 501-1002


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