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1.  DNA methylome in human CD4+ T cells identifies transcriptionally repressive and non-repressive methylation peaks 
Genes and immunity  2010;11(7):554-560.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that is critical in determining chromatin accessibility and regulating gene expression. This epigenetic mechanism has an important role in T-cell function. We used genome-wide methylation profiling to characterize the DNA methylome in primary human CD4+ T cells. We found that only 5% of CpG islands are methylated in CD4+ T cells, and that DNA methylation peak density is increased in subtelomeric chromosomal regions. We also found an inverse relationship between methylation peak density and chromosomal length. Our data indicate that DNA methylation in gene promoter regions is not always a repressive epigenetic mark. Indeed, about 27% of methylated genes are actively expressed in CD4+ T cells. We demonstrate that repressive methylation peaks are located closer to the transcription start site (TSS) compared with functionally non-repressive peaks (−893±110 bp versus −1342±218 bp (mean±s.e.m.), P-value <0.05). We also show that both a larger number and an increased CpG island density in promoter sequences predict transcriptional permissiveness of DNA methylation. TSS in the majority of genes with permissive DNA methylation peaks is in DNase I hypersensitive sites, indicating a failure of DNA methylation to induce chromatin inaccessibility in these loci.
doi:10.1038/gene.2010.24
PMCID: PMC2948060  PMID: 20463746
CD4+ T cell; DNA methylation; CpG islands; promoter methylation; methylome
2.  DNA Methylation Analysis of Chromosome 21 Gene Promoters at Single Base Pair and Single Allele Resolution 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(3):e1000438.
Differential DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic signal for gene regulation, development, and disease processes. We mapped DNA methylation patterns of 190 gene promoter regions on chromosome 21 using bisulfite conversion and subclone sequencing in five human cell types. A total of 28,626 subclones were sequenced at high accuracy using (long-read) Sanger sequencing resulting in the measurement of the DNA methylation state of 580427 CpG sites. Our results show that average DNA methylation levels are distributed bimodally with enrichment of highly methylated and unmethylated sequences, both for amplicons and individual subclones, which represent single alleles from individual cells. Within CpG-rich sequences, DNA methylation was found to be anti-correlated with CpG dinucleotide density and GC content, and methylated CpGs are more likely to be flanked by AT-rich sequences. We observed over-representation of CpG sites in distances of 9, 18, and 27 bps in highly methylated amplicons. However, DNA sequence alone is not sufficient to predict an amplicon's DNA methylation status, since 43% of all amplicons are differentially methylated between the cell types studied here. DNA methylation in promoter regions is strongly correlated with the absence of gene expression and low levels of activating epigenetic marks like H3K4 methylation and H3K9 and K14 acetylation. Utilizing the single base pair and single allele resolution of our data, we found that i) amplicons from different parts of a CpG island frequently differ in their DNA methylation level, ii) methylation levels of individual cells in one tissue are very similar, and iii) methylation patterns follow a relaxed site-specific distribution. Furthermore, iv) we identified three cases of allele-specific DNA methylation on chromosome 21. Our data shed new light on the nature of methylation patterns in human cells, the sequence dependence of DNA methylation, and its function as epigenetic signal in gene regulation. Further, we illustrate genotype–epigenotype interactions by showing novel examples of allele-specific methylation.
Author Summary
Epigenetics is defined as the inheritance of changes in gene function without changing the DNA sequence. Epigenetic signals comprise methylation of cytosine bases of the DNA and chemical modifications of the histone proteins. DNA methylation plays important roles in development and disease processes. To investigate the biological role of DNA methylation, we analyzed DNA methylation patterns of 190 gene promoter regions on chromosome 21 in five human cell types. Our results show that average DNA methylation levels are distributed bimodally with enrichment of highly methylated and unmethylated sequences, indicating that DNA methylation acts in a switch-like manner. Consistent with the well-established role of DNA methylation in gene silencing, we found DNA methylation in promoter regions strongly correlated with absence of gene expression and low levels of additional activating epigenetic marks. Although methylation levels of individual cells in one tissue are very similar, we observed differences in DNA methylation when comparing different cell types in 43% of all regions analyzed. This finding is in agreement with a role of DNA methylation in cellular development. We identified three cases of genes that are differentially methylated in both alleles that illustrate the tight interplay of genetic and epigenetic processes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000438
PMCID: PMC2653639  PMID: 19325872
3.  Genome-Wide DNA Methylation Analysis of Human Pancreatic Islets from Type 2 Diabetic and Non-Diabetic Donors Identifies Candidate Genes That Influence Insulin Secretion 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004160.
Impaired insulin secretion is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Epigenetics may affect disease susceptibility. To describe the human methylome in pancreatic islets and determine the epigenetic basis of T2D, we analyzed DNA methylation of 479,927 CpG sites and the transcriptome in pancreatic islets from T2D and non-diabetic donors. We provide a detailed map of the global DNA methylation pattern in human islets, β- and α-cells. Genomic regions close to the transcription start site showed low degrees of methylation and regions further away from the transcription start site such as the gene body, 3′UTR and intergenic regions showed a higher degree of methylation. While CpG islands were hypomethylated, the surrounding 2 kb shores showed an intermediate degree of methylation, whereas regions further away (shelves and open sea) were hypermethylated in human islets, β- and α-cells. We identified 1,649 CpG sites and 853 genes, including TCF7L2, FTO and KCNQ1, with differential DNA methylation in T2D islets after correction for multiple testing. The majority of the differentially methylated CpG sites had an intermediate degree of methylation and were underrepresented in CpG islands (∼7%) and overrepresented in the open sea (∼60%). 102 of the differentially methylated genes, including CDKN1A, PDE7B, SEPT9 and EXOC3L2, were differentially expressed in T2D islets. Methylation of CDKN1A and PDE7B promoters in vitro suppressed their transcriptional activity. Functional analyses demonstrated that identified candidate genes affect pancreatic β- and α-cells as Exoc3l silencing reduced exocytosis and overexpression of Cdkn1a, Pde7b and Sept9 perturbed insulin and glucagon secretion in clonal β- and α-cells, respectively. Together, our data can serve as a reference methylome in human islets. We provide new target genes with altered DNA methylation and expression in human T2D islets that contribute to perturbed insulin and glucagon secretion. These results highlight the importance of epigenetics in the pathogenesis of T2D.
Author Summary
Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation are implicated in the development of human disease. However, genome-wide epigenetic analyses in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) remain scarce. In this study we aimed to unravel the epigenetic basis of T2D by analyzing DNA methylation of 479,927 CpG sites in human pancreatic islets from T2D and non-diabetic donors. We identified 1,649 CpG sites and 853 genes with differential DNA methylation (fold change 6–59%) in T2D islets. These include reported diabetes loci, such as TCF7L2, FTO and KCNQ1. Furthermore, we found 102 genes that showed both differential DNA methylation and gene expression in T2D islets, including CDKN1A, PDE7B, SEPT9 and EXOC3L2. Finally, we provide functional proof that identified candidate genes directly affect insulin secretion and exocytosis in pancreatic β-cells as well as glucagon secretion in α-cells. Overall, this study provides a detailed map of the methylome in human pancreatic islets and demonstrates that altered DNA methylation in human islets contributes to perturbed hormone secretion and the pathogenesis of T2D.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004160
PMCID: PMC3945174  PMID: 24603685
4.  Targeted bisulfite sequencing reveals changes in DNA methylation associated with nuclear reprogramming 
Nature biotechnology  2009;27(4):353-360.
Current DNA methylation assays are limited in the flexibility and efficiency of characterizing a large number of genomic targets. We report a method to specifically capture an arbitrary subset of genomic targets for single-molecule bisulfite sequencing for digital quantification of DNA methylation at single-nucleotide resolution. A set of ~30,000 padlock probes was designed to assess methylation of ~66,000 CpG sites within 2,020 CpG islands on human chromosome 12, chromosome 20, and 34 selected regions. To investigate epigenetic differences associated with dedifferentiation, we compared methylation in three human fibroblast lines and eight human pluripotent stem cell lines. Chromosome-wide methylation patterns were similar among all lines studied, but cytosine methylation was slightly more prevalent in the pluripotent cells than in the fibroblasts. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells appeared to display more methylation than embryonic stem cells. We found 288 regions methylated differently in fibroblasts and pluripotent cells. This targeted approach should be particularly useful for analyzing DNA methylation in large genomes.
doi:10.1038/nbt.1530
PMCID: PMC2715272  PMID: 19330000
5.  Tissue-specific variation in DNA methylation levels along human chromosome 1 
Background
DNA methylation is a major epigenetic modification important for regulating gene expression and suppressing spurious transcription. Most methods to scan the genome in different tissues for differentially methylated sites have focused on the methylation of CpGs in CpG islands, which are concentrations of CpGs often associated with gene promoters.
Results
Here, we use a methylation profiling strategy that is predominantly responsive to methylation differences outside of CpG islands. The method compares the yield from two samples of size-selected fragments generated by a methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme. We then profile nine different normal tissues from two human donors relative to spleen using a custom array of genomic clones covering the euchromatic portion of human chromosome 1 and representing 8% of the human genome. We observe gross regional differences in methylation states across chromosome 1 between tissues from the same individual, with the most striking differences detected in the comparison of cerebellum and spleen. Profiles of the same tissue from different donors are strikingly similar, as are the profiles of different lobes of the brain. Comparing our results with published gene expression levels, we find that clones exhibiting extreme ratios reflecting low relative methylation are statistically enriched for genes with high expression ratios, and vice versa, in most pairs of tissues examined.
Conclusion
The varied patterns of methylation differences detected between tissues by our methylation profiling method reinforce the potential functional significance of regional differences in methylation levels outside of CpG islands.
doi:10.1186/1756-8935-2-7
PMCID: PMC2706828  PMID: 19505295
6.  Genomic Distribution and Inter-Sample Variation of Non-CpG Methylation across Human Cell Types 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002389.
DNA methylation plays an important role in development and disease. The primary sites of DNA methylation in vertebrates are cytosines in the CpG dinucleotide context, which account for roughly three quarters of the total DNA methylation content in human and mouse cells. While the genomic distribution, inter-individual stability, and functional role of CpG methylation are reasonably well understood, little is known about DNA methylation targeting CpA, CpT, and CpC (non-CpG) dinucleotides. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of non-CpG methylation in 76 genome-scale DNA methylation maps across pluripotent and differentiated human cell types. We confirm non-CpG methylation to be predominantly present in pluripotent cell types and observe a decrease upon differentiation and near complete absence in various somatic cell types. Although no function has been assigned to it in pluripotency, our data highlight that non-CpG methylation patterns reappear upon iPS cell reprogramming. Intriguingly, the patterns are highly variable and show little conservation between different pluripotent cell lines. We find a strong correlation of non-CpG methylation and DNMT3 expression levels while showing statistical independence of non-CpG methylation from pluripotency associated gene expression. In line with these findings, we show that knockdown of DNMTA and DNMT3B in hESCs results in a global reduction of non-CpG methylation. Finally, non-CpG methylation appears to be spatially correlated with CpG methylation. In summary these results contribute further to our understanding of cytosine methylation patterns in human cells using a large representative sample set.
Author Summary
Epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation at the position 5 of the cytosine base provide regulatory information to the genome sequence. The primary target of cytosine methylation in mammals is the CpG dinucleotide. However, previous studies in the mouse and more recent work in humans have highlighted the presence of non-CpG methylation in pluripotent cells. Currently, little is known about the role of this type of DNA methylation. We sought to further characterize non-CpG methylation by employing a comprehensive data set of genome-scale methylation maps across various human cell types. Our analysis reveals that non-CpG methylation varies dramatically between pluripotent cells and is closely linked to CpG methylation. Moreover, we show that depletion of the de novo DNA methyltransferases results in a global reduction of non-CpG methylation levels. Taken together, these findings further advance our understanding of cytosine methylation and describe its distribution among a large number of human cell types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002389
PMCID: PMC3234221  PMID: 22174693
7.  Discovery of cross-reactive probes and polymorphic CpGs in the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 microarray 
Epigenetics  2013;8(2):203-209.
DNA methylation, an important type of epigenetic modification in humans, participates in crucial cellular processes, such as embryonic development, X-inactivation, genomic imprinting and chromosome stability. Several platforms have been developed to study genome-wide DNA methylation. Many investigators in the field have chosen the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation microarray for its ability to reliably assess DNA methylation following sodium bisulfite conversion. Here, we analyzed methylation profiles of 489 adult males and 357 adult females generated by the Infinium HumanMethylation450 microarray. Among the autosomal CpG sites that displayed significant methylation differences between the two sexes, we observed a significant enrichment of cross-reactive probes co-hybridizing to the sex chromosomes with more than 94% sequence identity. This could lead investigators to mistakenly infer the existence of significant autosomal sex-associated methylation. Using sequence identity cutoffs derived from the sex methylation analysis, we concluded that 6% of the array probes can potentially generate spurious signals because of co-hybridization to alternate genomic sequences highly homologous to the intended targets. Additionally, we discovered probes targeting polymorphic CpGs that overlapped SNPs. The methylation levels detected by these probes are simply the reflection of underlying genetic polymorphisms but could be misinterpreted as true signals. The existence of probes that are cross-reactive or of target polymorphic CpGs in the Illumina HumanMethylation microarrays can confound data obtained from such microarrays. Therefore, investigators should exercise caution when significant biological associations are found using these array platforms. A list of all cross-reactive probes and polymorphic CpGs identified by us are annotated in this paper.
doi:10.4161/epi.23470
PMCID: PMC3592906  PMID: 23314698
DNA methylation; CpGs; oligonucleotide probe; Illumina microarray; SNPs; polymorphic CpG; cross-reactive probe
8.  Genome-wide mapping of DNA methylation: a quantitative technology comparison 
Nature biotechnology  2010;28(10):1106-1114.
DNA methylation is a key component of mammalian gene regulation and the most classical example of an epigenetic mark. DNA methylation patterns are mitotically heritable and stable over time, but they undergo considerable changes in response to cell differentiation, diseases and environmental influences. Several methods have been developed for DNA methylation profiling on a genomic scale. Here, we benchmark four of these methods on two sample pairs, comparing their accuracy and power to detect DNA methylation differences. The results show that all evaluated methods (MeDIP-seq: methylated DNA immunoprecipitation, MethylCap-seq: methylated DNA capture by affinity purification, RRBS: reduced representation bisulfite sequencing, and the Infinium HumanMethylation27 assay) produce accurate DNA methylation data. However, these methods differ in their ability to detect differentially methylated regions between pairs of samples. We highlight strengths and weaknesses of the four methods and give practical recommendations for the design of epigenomic case-control studies.
doi:10.1038/nbt.1681
PMCID: PMC3066564  PMID: 20852634
Epigenome profiling; epigenetics; sequencing; differentially methylated regions; molecular diagnostics; biomarker discovery; cancer
9.  Single-base resolution of mouse offspring brain methylome reveals epigenome modifications caused by gestational folic acid 
Background
Epigenetic modifications, such as cytosine methylation in CpG-rich regions, regulate multiple functions in mammalian development. Maternal nutrients affecting one-carbon metabolism during gestation can exert long-term effects on the health of the progeny. Using C57BL/6 J mice, we investigated whether the amount of ingested maternal folic acid (FA) during gestation impacted DNA methylation in the offspring’s cerebral hemispheres. Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing at single-base resolution was performed to analyze genome-wide DNA methylation profiles.
Results
We identified widespread differences in the methylation patterns of CpG and non-CpG sites of key developmental genes, including imprinted and candidate autism susceptibility genes (P <0.05). Such differential methylation of the CpG and non-CpG sites may use different mechanisms to alter gene expressions. Quantitative real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction confirmed altered expression of several genes.
Conclusions
These finding demonstrate that high maternal FA during gestation induces substantial alteration in methylation pattern and gene expression of several genes in the cerebral hemispheres of the offspring, and such changes may influence the overall development. Our findings provide a foundation for future studies to explore the influence of gestational FA on genetic/epigenetic susceptibility to altered development and disease in offspring.
doi:10.1186/1756-8935-7-3
PMCID: PMC3928622  PMID: 24484737
10.  Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in bovine placentas 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:12.
Background
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification that is essential for epigenetic gene regulation in development and disease. To date, the genome-wide DNA methylation maps of many organisms have been reported, but the methylation pattern of cattle remains unknown.
Results
We showed the genome-wide DNA methylation map in placental tissues using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation combined with high-throughput sequencing (MeDIP-seq). In cattle, the methylation levels in the gene body are relatively high, whereas the promoter remains hypomethylated. We obtained thousands of highly methylated regions (HMRs), methylated CpG islands, and methylated genes from bovine placenta. DNA methylation levels around the transcription start sites of genes are negatively correlated with the gene expression level. However, the relationship between gene-body DNA methylation and gene expression is non-monotonic. Moderately expressed genes generally have the highest levels of gene-body DNA methylation, whereas the highly, and lowly expressed genes, as well as silent genes, show moderate DNA methylation levels. Genes with the highest expression show the lowest DNA methylation levels.
Conclusions
We have generated the genome-wide mapping of DNA methylation in cattle for the first time, and our results can be used for future studies on epigenetic gene regulation in cattle. This study contributes to the knowledge on epigenetics in cattle.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-12
PMCID: PMC3893433  PMID: 24397284
11.  Genome-Wide Mapping of DNA Methylation in Chicken 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19428.
Cytosine DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification termed as the fifth base that functions in diverse processes. Till now, the genome-wide DNA methylation maps of many organisms has been reported, such as human, Arabidopsis, rice and silkworm, but the methylation pattern of bird remains rarely studied. Here we show the genome-wide DNA methylation map of bird, using the chicken as a model organism and an immunocapturing approach followed by high-throughput sequencing. In both of the red jungle fowl and the avian broiler, DNA methylation was described separately for the liver and muscle tissue. Generally, chicken displays analogous methylation pattern with that of animals and plants. DNA methylation is enriched in the gene body regions and the repetitive sequences, and depleted in the transcription start site (TSS) and the transcription termination site (TTS). Most of the CpG islands in the chicken genome are kept in unmethylated state. Promoter methylation is negatively correlated with the gene expression level, indicating its suppressive role in regulating gene transcription. This work contributes to our understanding of epigenetics in birds.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019428
PMCID: PMC3088676  PMID: 21573164
12.  Genome-Wide Analysis of DNA Methylation in Human Amnion 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:678156.
The amnion is a specialized tissue in contact with the amniotic fluid, which is in a constantly changing state. To investigate the importance of epigenetic events in this tissue in the physiology and pathophysiology of pregnancy, we performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of human amnion from term (with and without labor) and preterm deliveries. Using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip, we identified genes exhibiting differential methylation associated with normal labor and preterm birth. Functional analysis of the differentially methylated genes revealed biologically relevant enriched gene sets. Bisulfite sequencing analysis of the promoter region of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene detected two CpG dinucleotides showing significant methylation differences among the three groups of samples. Hypermethylation of the CpG island of the solute carrier family 30 member 3 (SLC30A3) gene in preterm amnion was confirmed by methylation-specific PCR. This work provides preliminary evidence that DNA methylation changes in the amnion may be at least partially involved in the physiological process of labor and the etiology of preterm birth and suggests that DNA methylation profiles, in combination with other biological data, may provide valuable insight into the mechanisms underlying normal and pathological pregnancies.
doi:10.1155/2013/678156
PMCID: PMC3590748  PMID: 23533356
13.  Functional complementation between transcriptional methylation regulation and post-transcriptional microRNA regulation in the human genome 
BMC Genomics  2011;12(Suppl 5):S15.
Background
DNA methylation in the 5' promoter regions of genes and microRNA (miRNA) regulation at the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) are two major epigenetic regulation mechanisms in most eukaryotes. Both DNA methylation and miRNA regulation can suppress gene expression and their corresponding protein product; thus, they play critical roles in cellular processes. Although there have been numerous investigations of gene regulation by methylation changes and miRNAs, there is no systematic genome-wide examination of their coordinated effects in any organism.
Results
In this study, we investigated the relationship between promoter methylation at the transcription level and miRNA regulation at the post-transcription level by taking advantage of recently released human methylome data and high quality miRNA and other gene annotation data. We found methylation level in the promoter regions and expression level was negatively correlated. Then, we showed that miRNAs tended to target the genes with a low DNA methylation level in their promoter regions. We further demonstrated that this observed pattern was not attributed to the gene expression level, expression broadness, or the number of transcription factor binding sites. Interestingly, we found miRNA target sites were significantly enriched in the genes located in differentially methylated regions or partially methylated domains. Finally, we explored the features of DNA methylation and miRNA regulation in cancer genes and found cancer genes tended to have low methylation level and more miRNA target sites.
Conclusion
This is the first genome-wide investigation of the combined regulation of gene expression. Our results supported a complementary regulation between DNA methylation (transcriptional level) and miRNA function (post-transcriptional level) in the human genome. The results were helpful for our understanding of the evolutionary forces towards organisms' complexity beyond traditional sequence level investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-S5-S15
PMCID: PMC3287497  PMID: 22369656
14.  Targeted bisulfite sequencing by solution hybrid selection and massively parallel sequencing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(19):e127.
We applied a solution hybrid selection approach to the enrichment of CpG islands (CGIs) and promoter sequences from the human genome for targeted high-throughput bisulfite sequencing. A single lane of Illumina sequences allowed accurate and quantitative analysis of ~1 million CpGs in more than 21 408 CGIs and more than 15 946 transcriptional regulatory regions. Of the CpGs analyzed, 77–84% fell on or near capture probe sequences; 69–75% fell within CGIs. More than 85% of capture probes successfully yielded quantitative DNA methylation information of targeted regions. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified in the 5′-end regulatory regions, as well as the intra- and intergenic regions, particularly in the X-chromosome among the three breast cancer cell lines analyzed. We chose 46 candidate loci (762 CpGs) for confirmation with PCR-based bisulfite sequencing and demonstrated excellent correlation between two data sets. Targeted bisulfite sequencing of three DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) knockout cell lines and the wild-type HCT116 colon cancer cell line revealed a significant decrease in CpG methylation for the DNMT1 knockout and DNMT1, 3B double knockout cell lines, but not in DNMT3B knockout cell line. We demonstrated the targeted bisulfite sequencing approach to be a powerful method to uncover novel aberrant methylation in the cancer epigenome. Since all targets were captured and sequenced as a pool through a series of single-tube reactions, this method can be easily scaled up to deal with a large number of samples.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr598
PMCID: PMC3201883  PMID: 21785137
15.  Putative Zinc Finger Protein Binding Sites Are Over-Represented in the Boundaries of Methylation-Resistant CpG Islands in the Human Genome 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(11):e1184.
Background
Majority of CpG dinucleotides in mammalian genomes tend to undergo DNA methylation, but most CpG islands are resistant to such epigenetic modification. Understanding about mechanisms that may lead to the methylation resistance of CpG islands is still very poor.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the genome-scale in vivo DNA methylation data from human brain, we investigated the flanking sequence features of methylation-resistant CpG islands, and discovered that there are several over-represented putative Transcription Factor Binding Sites (TFBSs) in methylation-resistant CpG islands, and a specific group of zinc finger protein binding sites are over-represented in boundary regions (∼400 bp) flanking such CpG islands. About 77% of the over-represented putative TFBSs are conserved among human, mouse and rat. We also observed the enrichment of 4 histone methylations in methylation-resistant CpG islands or their boundaries.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results suggest a possible mechanism that certain putative zinc finger protein binding sites over-represented in the boundary regions of the methylation-resistant CpG islands may block the spreading of methylation into these islands, and those TFBSs over-represented within the islands may both reinforce the methylation blocking and promote transcription. Some histone modifications may also enhance the immunity of the CpG islands against DNA methylation by augmenting these TFs' binding. We speculate that the dynamical equilibrium between methylation spreading and blocking is likely to be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the relatively stable DNA methylation pattern in human somatic cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001184
PMCID: PMC2065907  PMID: 18030324
16.  The Application of Next Generation Sequencing in DNA Methylation Analysis 
Genes  2010;1(1):85-101.
DNA methylation is a major form of epigenetic modification and plays essential roles in physiology and disease processes. In the human genome, about 80% of cytosines in the 56 million CpG sites are methylated to 5-methylcytosines. The methylation pattern of DNA is highly variable among cells types and developmental stages and influenced by disease processes and genetic factors, which brings considerable theoretical and technological challenges for its comprehensive mapping. Recently various high-throughput approaches based on bisulfite conversion combined with next generation sequencing have been developed and applied for the genome wide analysis of DNA methylation. These methods provide single base pair resolution, quantitative DNA methylation data with genome wide coverage. We review these methods here and discuss some technical points of special interest like the sequence depth necessary to reach conclusions, the identification of clonal DNA amplification after bisulfite conversion and the detection of non-CpG methylation. Future application of these methods will greatly facilitate the profiling of the DNA methylation in the genomes of different species, individuals and cell types under healthy and disease states.
doi:10.3390/genes1010085
PMCID: PMC3960863
DNA methylation; next generation sequencing; bisulfite conversion; methylome
17.  Genome-wide DNA hydroxymethylation changes are associated with neurodevelopmental genes in the developing human cerebellum 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(26):5500-5510.
5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) is a newly discovered modified form of cytosine that has been suspected to be an important epigenetic modification in neurodevelopment. While DNA methylation dynamics have already been implicated during neurodevelopment, little is known about hydroxymethylation in this process. Here, we report DNA hydroxymethylation dynamics during cerebellum development in the human brain. Overall, we find a positive correlation between 5-hmC levels and cerebellum development. Genome-wide profiling reveals that 5-hmC is highly enriched on specific gene regions including exons and especially the untranslated regions (UTRs), but it is depleted on introns and intergenic regions. Furthermore, we have identified fetus-specific and adult-specific differentially hydroxymethylated regions (DhMRs), most of which overlap with genes and CpG island shores. Surprisingly, during development, DhMRs are highly enriched in genes encoding mRNAs that can be regulated by fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), some of which are disrupted in autism, as well as in many known autism genes. Our results suggest that 5-hmC-mediated epigenetic regulation may broadly impact the development of the human brain, and its dysregulation could contribute to the molecular pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Accession number: Sequencing data have been deposited to GEO with accession number GSE40539.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds394
PMCID: PMC3516134  PMID: 23042784
18.  Non-random, individual-specific methylation profiles are present at the sixth CTCF binding site in the human H19/IGF2 imprinting control region 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(19):5438-5448.
Expression of imprinted genes is classically associated with differential methylation of specific CpG-rich DNA regions (DMRs). The H19/IGF2 locus is considered a paradigm for epigenetic regulation. In mice, as in humans, the essential H19 DMR—target of the CTCF insulator—is located between the two genes. Here, we performed a pyrosequencing-based quantitative analysis of its CpG methylation in normal human tissues. The quantitative analysis of the methylation level in the H19 DMR revealed three unexpected discrete, individual-specific methylation states. This epigenetic polymorphism was confined to the sixth CTCF binding site while a unique median-methylated profile was found at the third CTCF binding site as well as in the H19 promoter. Monoallelic expression of H19 and IGF2 was maintained independently of the methylation status at the sixth CTCF binding site and the IGF2 DMR2 displayed a median-methylated profile in all individuals and tissues analyzed. Interestingly, the methylation profile was genetically transmitted. Transgenerational inheritance of the H19 methylation profile was compatible with a simple model involving one gene with three alleles. The existence of three individual-specific epigenotypes in the H19 DMR in a non-pathological situation means it is important to reconsider the diagnostic value and functional importance of the sixth CTCF binding site.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl657
PMCID: PMC1636469  PMID: 17012269
19.  Specific Histone Tail Modification and Not DNA Methylation Is a Determinant of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Latent Gene Expression 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(3):1139-1149.
During herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) latency, gene expression is tightly repressed except for the latency-associated transcript (LAT). The mechanistic basis for this repression is unknown, but its global nature suggests regulation by an epigenetic mechanism such as DNA methylation. Previous work demonstrated that latent HSV-1 genomes are not extensively methylated, but these studies lacked the resolution to examine methylation of individual CpGs that could repress transcription from individual promoters during latency. To address this point, we employed established models to predict genomic regions with the highest probability of being methylated and, using bisulfite sequencing, analyzed the methylation profiles of these regions. We found no significant methylation of latent DNA isolated from mouse dorsal root ganglia in any of the regions examined, including the ICP4 and LAT promoters. This analysis indicates that methylation is unlikely to play a major role in regulating HSV-1 latent gene expression. Subsequently we focused on differential histone modification as another epigenetic mechanism that could regulate latent transcription. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the latent HSV-1 DNA repeat regions demonstrated that a portion of the LAT region is associated with histone H3 acetylated at lysines 9 and 14, consistent with a euchromatic and nonrepressed structure. In contrast, the chromatin associated with the HSV-1 DNA polymerase gene located in the unique long segment was not enriched in H3 acetylated at lysines 9 and 14, suggesting a transcriptionally inactive structure. These data suggest that histone composition may be a major regulatory determinant of HSV latency.
doi:10.1128/JVI.78.3.1139-1149.2004
PMCID: PMC321404  PMID: 14722269
20.  Permissive Transcriptional Activity at the Centromere through Pockets of DNA Hypomethylation 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(2):e17.
DNA methylation is a hallmark of transcriptional silencing, yet transcription has been reported at the centromere. To address this apparent paradox, we employed a fully sequence-defined ectopic human centromere (or neocentromere) to investigate the relationship between DNA methylation and transcription. We used sodium bisulfite PCR and sequencing to determine the methylation status of 2,041 CpG dinucleotides distributed across a 6.76-Mbp chromosomal region containing a neocentromere. These CpG dinucleotides were associated with conventional and nonconventional CpG islands. We found an overall hypermethylation of the neocentric DNA at nonconventional CpG islands that we designated as CpG islets and CpG orphans. The observed hypermethylation was consistent with the presence of a presumed transcriptionally silent chromatin state at the neocentromere. Within this neocentric chromatin, specific sites of active transcription and the centromeric chromatin boundary are defined by DNA hypomethylation. Our data demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, a correlation between DNA methylation and centromere formation in mammals, and that transcription and “chromatin-boundary activity” are permissible at the centromere through the selective hypomethylation of pockets of sequences without compromising the overall silent chromatin state and function of the centromere.
Synopsis
The centromere is a chromosomal structure that is vital for the correct partitioning of chromosomes during cell division. Recent studies in a number of different species have shown that transcription is permissible within the centromere, but the mode of transcription regulation at the centromere remains unclear. DNA methylation is a well-characterized mechanism for the genomic regulation of transcription. Here, the authors investigate the relationship between DNA methylation and transcription activity at a functional human centromere. They demonstrate a high level of DNA methylation across the centromere but identify pockets of DNA sequences within the methylated domain that are non-methylated. These pockets correspond to sites of transcription and/or boundaries that separate major centromeric chromatin sub-domains. This study shows the complexity of the centromere as it uses DNA methylation to both maintain a tight chromatin structure and to allow transcription to occur.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020017
PMCID: PMC1361766  PMID: 16477312
21.  Permissive Transcriptional Activity at the Centromere through Pockets of DNA Hypomethylation 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(2):e17.
DNA methylation is a hallmark of transcriptional silencing, yet transcription has been reported at the centromere. To address this apparent paradox, we employed a fully sequence-defined ectopic human centromere (or neocentromere) to investigate the relationship between DNA methylation and transcription. We used sodium bisulfite PCR and sequencing to determine the methylation status of 2,041 CpG dinucleotides distributed across a 6.76-Mbp chromosomal region containing a neocentromere. These CpG dinucleotides were associated with conventional and nonconventional CpG islands. We found an overall hypermethylation of the neocentric DNA at nonconventional CpG islands that we designated as CpG islets and CpG orphans. The observed hypermethylation was consistent with the presence of a presumed transcriptionally silent chromatin state at the neocentromere. Within this neocentric chromatin, specific sites of active transcription and the centromeric chromatin boundary are defined by DNA hypomethylation. Our data demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, a correlation between DNA methylation and centromere formation in mammals, and that transcription and “chromatin-boundary activity” are permissible at the centromere through the selective hypomethylation of pockets of sequences without compromising the overall silent chromatin state and function of the centromere.
Synopsis
The centromere is a chromosomal structure that is vital for the correct partitioning of chromosomes during cell division. Recent studies in a number of different species have shown that transcription is permissible within the centromere, but the mode of transcription regulation at the centromere remains unclear. DNA methylation is a well-characterized mechanism for the genomic regulation of transcription. Here, the authors investigate the relationship between DNA methylation and transcription activity at a functional human centromere. They demonstrate a high level of DNA methylation across the centromere but identify pockets of DNA sequences within the methylated domain that are non-methylated. These pockets correspond to sites of transcription and/or boundaries that separate major centromeric chromatin sub-domains. This study shows the complexity of the centromere as it uses DNA methylation to both maintain a tight chromatin structure and to allow transcription to occur.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020017
PMCID: PMC1361766  PMID: 16477312
22.  QDMR: a quantitative method for identification of differentially methylated regions by entropy 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(9):e58.
DNA methylation plays critical roles in transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) have important implications for development, aging and diseases. Therefore, genome-wide mapping of DMRs across various temporal and spatial methylomes is important in revealing the impact of epigenetic modifications on heritable phenotypic variation. We present a quantitative approach, quantitative differentially methylated regions (QDMRs), to quantify methylation difference and identify DMRs from genome-wide methylation profiles by adapting Shannon entropy. QDMR was applied to synthetic methylation patterns and methylation profiles detected by methylated DNA immunoprecipitation microarray (MeDIP-chip) in human tissues/cells. This approach can give a reasonable quantitative measure of methylation difference across multiple samples. Then DMR threshold was determined from methylation probability model. Using this threshold, QDMR identified 10 651 tissue DMRs which are related to the genes enriched for cell differentiation, including 4740 DMRs not identified by the method developed by Rakyan et al. QDMR can also measure the sample specificity of each DMR. Finally, the application to methylation profiles detected by reduced representation bisulphite sequencing (RRBS) in mouse showed the platform-free and species-free nature of QDMR. This approach provides an effective tool for the high-throughput identification of potential functional regions involved in epigenetic regulation.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr053
PMCID: PMC3089487  PMID: 21306990
23.  The application of methylation specific electrophoresis (MSE) to DNA methylation analysis of the 5' CpG island of mucin in cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:67.
Background
Methylation of CpG sites in genomic DNA plays an important role in gene regulation and especially in gene silencing. We have reported mechanisms of epigenetic regulation for expression of mucins, which are markers of malignancy potential and early detection of human neoplasms. Epigenetic changes in promoter regions appear to be the first step in expression of mucins. Thus, detection of promoter methylation status is important for early diagnosis of cancer, monitoring of tumor behavior, and evaluating the response of tumors to targeted therapy. However, conventional analytical methods for DNA methylation require a large amount of DNA and have low sensitivity.
Methods
Here, we report a modified version of the bisulfite-DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) using a nested PCR approach. We designated this method as methylation specific electrophoresis (MSE). The MSE method is comprised of the following steps: (a) bisulfite treatment of genomic DNA, (b) amplification of the target DNA by a nested PCR approach and (c) applying to DGGE. To examine whether the MSE method is able to analyze DNA methylation of mucin genes in various samples, we apply it to DNA obtained from state cell lines, ethanol-fixed colonic crypts and human pancreatic juices.
Result
The MSE method greatly decreases the amount of input DNA. The lower detection limit for distinguishing different methylation status is < 0.1% and the detectable minimum amount of DNA is 20 pg, which can be obtained from only a few cells. We also show that MSE can be used for analysis of challenging samples such as human isolated colonic crypts or human pancreatic juices, from which only a small amount of DNA can be extracted.
Conclusions
The MSE method can provide a qualitative information of methylated sequence profile. The MSE method allows sensitive and specific analysis of the DNA methylation pattern of almost any block of multiple CpG sites. The MSE method can be applied to analysis of DNA methylation status in many different clinical samples, and this may facilitate identification of new risk markers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-67
PMCID: PMC3311064  PMID: 22329852
DNA methylation pattern; Epigenetics; Mucin; Colonic crypt; Pancreatic juice; Cancer
24.  Epigenetic Regulation of Adipocyte Differentiation by a Rho Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor, WGEF 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5809.
Epigenetic regulation, including DNA methylation, plays an important role in several differentiation processes and possibly in adipocyte differentiation. To search for genes that show methylation change during adipogenesis, genome-wide DNA methylation analysis in insulin-induced adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 preadipocyte cells was performed using a method called microarray-based integrated analysis of methylation by isoschizomers (MIAMI). The MIAMI revealed that Hpa II sites of exon 1 in a Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor 19 (ARHGEF19; WGEF) gene were demethylated during adipocyte differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells. Deletion of the region containing cytosine-guanine (CpG) sites that showed methylation change suppressed transcriptional activity in the reporter assay, indicating that this region regulates WGEF transcription. WGEF expression in 3T3-L1 cells was reduced during adipocyte differentiation, and high-fat diet-induced obese mice also showed lower expression of WGEF gene than control mice in white adipose tissue. Additionally, forced expression of WGEF in 3T3-L1 cells down-regulated the expression of adipogenic marker genes and inhibited the adipogenic program. This study clarified that adipogenesis was regulated by WGEF expression through DNA methylation change.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005809
PMCID: PMC2686168  PMID: 19503838
25.  CpG Methylation in the Hexamerin 110 Gene in the European Honeybee, Apis mellifera  
The European honeybee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), has a full set of machinery for functional CpG methylation of its genome. A recent study demonstrated that DNA methylation in the honeybee is involved in caste differentiation. In this study, the expression and methylation of the hexamerin 110 gene (Hex110), which encodes a storage protein, was analyzed. High levels of the Hex110 transcript were expressed in both worker and queen larvae. Low levels of this transcript were also detected in adult fat bodies, and the expression level was higher in the queen than in the worker. Bisulfite sequencing revealed that the Hex110 gene is overall methylated at a low level, with a limited number of CpG sites methylated at relatively high levels. These highly methylated sites were exclusively located in the exon regions. The average methylation rate of the Hex110 gene was higher in the adult stage than in the larval stage. Furthermore, several CpG sites were differentially methylated between the worker and queen larvae. These observations suggest that the methylation of the Hex110 gene is regulated at the developmental stage and in a caste-dependent manner.
doi:10.1673/031.011.7401
PMCID: PMC3281433  PMID: 21870982
bisulfite sequencing; caste differentiation; epigenetics; Hex 110

Results 1-25 (805608)