The processes that compose expression of a given gene are far more complex than previously thought presenting unprecedented conceptual and mechanistic challenges that require development of new tools. Chromatin structure, which is regulated by DNA methylation and histone modification, is at the center of gene regulation. Immunoprecipitations of chromatin (ChIP) and methylated DNA (MeDIP) represent a major achievement in this area that allow researchers to probe chromatin modifications as well as specific protein-DNA interactions in vivo and to estimate the density of proteins at specific sites genome-wide. Although a critical component of chromatin structure, DNA methylation has often been studied independently of other chromatin events and transcription.
To allow simultaneous measurements of DNA methylation with other genomic processes, we developed and validated a simple and easy-to-use high throughput microplate-based platform for analysis of DNA methylation. Compared to the traditional beads-based MeDIP the microplate MeDIP was more sensitive and had lower non-specific binding. We integrated the MeDIP method with a microplate ChIP assay which allows measurements of both DNA methylation and histone marks at the same time, Matrix ChIP-MeDIP platform. We illustrated several applications of this platform to relate DNA methylation, with chromatin and transcription events at selected genes in cultured cells, human cancer and in a model of diabetic kidney disease.
The high throughput capacity of Matrix ChIP-MeDIP to profile tens and potentially hundreds of different genomic events at the same time as DNA methylation represents a powerful platform to explore complex genomic mechanism at selected genes in cultured cells and in whole tissues. In this regard, Matrix ChIP-MeDIP should be useful to complement genome-wide studies where the rich chromatin and transcription database resources provide fruitful foundation to pursue mechanistic, functional and diagnostic information at genes of interest in health and disease.