DNA Methylation - Detection


DNA methylation can be detected by the following assays currently used in scientific research:

  • Methylation-Specific PCR (MSP), which is based on a chemical reaction of sodium bisulfite with DNA that converts unmethylated cytosines of CpG dinucleotides to uracil or UpG, followed by traditional PCR. However, methylated cytosines will not be converted in this process, and primers are designed to overlap the CpG site of interest, which allows one to determine methylation status as methylated or unmethylated.
  • Whole genome bisulfite sequencing, also known as BS-Seq, which is a high-throughput genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation. It is based on aforementioned sodium bisulfite conversion of genomic DNA, which is then sequenced on a Next-generation sequencing platform. The sequences obtained are then re-aligned to the reference genome to determine methylation states of CpG dinucleotides based on mismatches resulting from the conversion of unmethylated cytosines into uracil.
  • The HELP assay, which is based on restriction enzymes' differential ability to recognize and cleave methylated and unmethylated CpG DNA sites.
  • ChIP-on-chip assays, which is based on the ability of commercially prepared antibodies to bind to DNA methylation-associated proteins like MeCP2.
  • Restriction landmark genomic scanning, a complicated and now rarely-used assay based upon restriction enzymes' differential recognition of methylated and unmethylated CpG sites; the assay is similar in concept to the HELP assay.
  • Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP), analogous to chromatin immunoprecipitation, immunoprecipitation is used to isolate methylated DNA fragments for input into DNA detection methods such as DNA microarrays (MeDIP-chip) or DNA sequencing (MeDIP-seq).
  • Pyrosequencing of bisulfite treated DNA. This is sequencing of an amplicon made by a normal forward primer but a biatenylated reverse primer to PCR the gene of choice. The Pyrosequencer then analyses the sample by denaturing the DNA and adding one nucleotide at a time to the mix according to a sequence given by the user. If there is a mis-match, it is recorded and the percentage of DNA for which the mis-match is present is noted. This gives the user a percentage methylation per CpG island.
  • Molecular break light assay for DNA adenine methyltransferase activity – an assay that relies on the specificity of the restriction enzyme DpnI for fully methylated (adenine methylation) GATC sites in an oligonucleotide labeled with a fluorophore and quencher. The adenine methyltransferase methylates the oligonucleotide making it a substrate for DpnI. Cutting of the oligonucleotide by DpnI gives rise to a fluorescence increase.
  • Methyl Sensitive Southern Blotting is similar to the HELP assay, although uses Southern blotting techniques to probe gene-specific differences in methylation using restriction digests. This technique is used to evaluate local methylation near the binding site for the probe.

Read more about this topic:  DNA Methylation

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