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1.  A Bayesian deconvolution strategy for immunoprecipitation-based DNA methylome analysis 
Nature biotechnology  2008;26(7):779-785.
DNA methylation is an indispensible epigenetic modification of mammalian genomes. Consequently there is great interest in strategies for genome-wide/whole-genome DNA methylation analysis, and immunoprecipitation-based methods have proven to be a powerful option. Such methods are rapidly shifting the bottleneck from data generation to data analysis, necessitating the development of better analytical tools. Until now, a major analytical difficulty associated with immunoprecipitation-based DNA methylation profiling has been the inability to estimate absolute methylation levels. Here we report the development of a novel cross-platform algorithm – Bayesian Tool for Methylation Analysis (Batman) – for analyzing Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) profiles generated using arrays (MeDIP-chip) or next-generation sequencing (MeDIP-seq). The latter is an approach we have developed to elucidate the first high-resolution whole-genome DNA methylation profile (DNA methylome) of any mammalian genome. MeDIP-seq/MeDIP-chip combined with Batman represent robust, quantitative, and cost-effective functional genomic strategies for elucidating the function of DNA methylation.
PMCID: PMC2644410  PMID: 18612301
2.  Assessing the efficiency and significance of Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) assays in using in vitro methylated genomic DNA 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:240.
DNA methylation contributes to the regulation of gene expression during development and cellular differentiation. The recently developed Methylated DNA ImmunoPrecipitation (MeDIP) assay allows a comprehensive analysis of this epigenetic mark at the genomic level in normal and disease-derived cells. However, estimating the efficiency of the MeDIP technique is difficult without previous knowledge of the methylation status of a given cell population. Attempts to circumvent this problem have involved the use of in vitro methylated DNA in parallel to the investigated samples. Taking advantage of this stratagem, we sought to improve the sensitivity of the approach and to assess potential biases resulting from DNA amplification and hybridization procedures using MeDIP samples.
We performed MeDIP assays using in vitro methylated DNA, with or without previous DNA amplification, and hybridization to a human promoter array. We observed that CpG content at gene promoters indeed correlates strongly with the MeDIP signal obtained using in vitro methylated DNA, even when lowering significantly the amount of starting material. In analyzing MeDIP products that were subjected to whole genome amplification (WGA), we also revealed a strong bias against CpG-rich promoters during this amplification procedure, which may potentially affect the significance of the resulting data.
We illustrate the use of in vitro methylated DNA to assess the efficiency and accuracy of MeDIP procedures. We report that efficient and reproducible genome-wide data can be obtained via MeDIP experiments using relatively low amount of starting genomic DNA; and emphasize for the precaution that must be taken in data analysis when an additional DNA amplification step is required.
PMCID: PMC2949662  PMID: 20846371
3.  A Comparison of the Whole Genome Approach of MeDIP-Seq to the Targeted Approach of the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip® for Methylome Profiling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50233.
DNA methylation is one of the most studied epigenetic marks in the human genome, with the result that the desire to map the human methylome has driven the development of several methods to map DNA methylation on a genomic scale. Our study presents the first comparison of two of these techniques - the targeted approach of the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip® with the immunoprecipitation and sequencing-based method, MeDIP-seq. Both methods were initially validated with respect to bisulfite sequencing as the gold standard and then assessed in terms of coverage, resolution and accuracy. The regions of the methylome that can be assayed by both methods and those that can only be assayed by one method were determined and the discovery of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) by both techniques was examined. Our results show that the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip® and MeDIP-seq show a good positive correlation (Spearman correlation of 0.68) on a genome-wide scale and can both be used successfully to determine differentially methylated loci in RefSeq genes, CpG islands, shores and shelves. MeDIP-seq however, allows a wider interrogation of methylated regions of the human genome, including thousands of non-RefSeq genes and repetitive elements, all of which may be of importance in disease. In our study MeDIP-seq allowed the detection of 15,709 differentially methylated regions, nearly twice as many as the array-based method (8070), which may result in a more comprehensive study of the methylome.
PMCID: PMC3510246  PMID: 23209683
4.  Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation and Microarray-Based Analysis: Detection of DNA Methylation in Breast Cancer Cell Lines 
The methylated DNA immunoprecipitation microarray (MeDIP-chip) is a genome-wide, high-resolution approach to detect DNA methylation in whole genome or CpG (cytosine base followed by a guanine base) islands. The method utilizes anti-methylcytosine antibody to immunoprecipitate DNA that contains highly methylated CpG sites. Enriched methylated DNA can be interrogated using DNA microarrays or by massive parallel sequencing techniques. This combined approach allows researchers to rapidly identify methylated regions in a genome-wide manner, and compare DNA methylation patterns between two samples with diversely different DNA methylation status. MeDIP-chip has been applied successfully for analyses of methylated DNA in the different targets including animal and plant tissues (1, 2). Here we present a MeDIP-chip protocol that is routinely used in our laboratory, illustrated with specific examples from MeDIP-chip analysis of breast cancer cell lines. Potential technical pitfalls and solutions are also provided to serve as workflow guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2845920  PMID: 19763503
DNA methylation; epigenetics; MeDIP-chip; microarray; cancer
5.  Inter-individual methylation variability in differentially methylated regions between maternal whole blood and first trimester CVS 
Molecular Cytogenetics  2014;7(1):73.
DNA methylation is the most studied form of epigenetic regulation, a process by which chromatin composition and transcription factor binding is altered to influence tissue specific gene expression and differentiation. Such tissue specific methylation patterns are investigated as biomarkers for cancer and cell-free fetal DNA using various methodologies.
We have utilized methylation DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and real-time quantitative PCR to investigate the inter-individual methylation variability of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) on chromosomes 18 and 21. We have characterized 15 newly selected and seven previously validated DMRs in 50, 1st trimester Chorionic villus samplings (CVS) and 50 female non-pregnant peripheral blood (WBF) samples. qPCR results from MeDIP and genomic DNA (Input) assays were used to calculate fold enrichment values for each DMR. For all regions tested, enrichment was higher in CVS than in WBF samples with mean enrichments ranging from 0.22 to 6.4 and 0.017 to 1 respectively. Despite inter-individual variability, mean enrichment values for CVS were significantly different than those for WBF in all DMRs tested (p < 0.01). This observation is reinforced by the absence of overlap in CVS and WBF enrichment value distributions for 15 of 22 DMRs.
Our work provides an expansion in the biomarker panel available for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) using the MeDIP-qPCR methology for Down syndrome and can eventually provide the starting point towards the development for assays towards the detection of Edwards syndrome. Furthermore, our data indicate that inter-experimental and inter-individual variation in methylation is apparent, yet the difference in methylation status across tissues is large enough to allow for robust tissue specific methylation identification.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13039-014-0073-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4243368  PMID: 25426166
Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis; Inter-individual variability; Differentially methylated regions; MeDIP
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC3089487  PMID: 21306990
7.  The Epigenetic Landscape of Latent Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Genomes 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(6):e1000935.
Herpesvirus latency is generally thought to be governed by epigenetic modifications, but the dynamics of viral chromatin at early timepoints of latent infection are poorly understood. Here, we report a comprehensive spatial and temporal analysis of DNA methylation and histone modifications during latent infection with Kaposi Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the etiologic agent of Kaposi Sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). By use of high resolution tiling microarrays in conjunction with immunoprecipitation of methylated DNA (MeDIP) or modified histones (chromatin IP, ChIP), our study revealed highly distinct landscapes of epigenetic modifications associated with latent KSHV infection in several tumor-derived cell lines as well as de novo infected endothelial cells. We find that KSHV genomes are subject to profound methylation at CpG dinucleotides, leading to the establishment of characteristic global DNA methylation patterns. However, such patterns evolve slowly and thus are unlikely to control early latency. In contrast, we observed that latency-specific histone modification patterns were rapidly established upon a de novo infection. Our analysis furthermore demonstrates that such patterns are not characterized by the absence of activating histone modifications, as H3K9/K14-ac and H3K4-me3 marks were prominently detected at several loci, including the promoter of the lytic cycle transactivator Rta. While these regions were furthermore largely devoid of the constitutive heterochromatin marker H3K9-me3, we observed rapid and widespread deposition of H3K27-me3 across latent KSHV genomes, a bivalent modification which is able to repress transcription in spite of the simultaneous presence of activating marks. Our findings suggest that the modification patterns identified here induce a poised state of repression during viral latency, which can be rapidly reversed once the lytic cycle is induced.
Author Summary
A characteristic feature of herpesviruses is their ability to establish a latent infection during which most of the viral genes are silenced. As a consequence, no viral progeny is produced and the host cell remains viable. While the viral genome may persist in the nucleus of such cells indefinitely, it retains the ability to re-enter the lytic cycle and produce new virions if conditions in the cell become unfavorable. The molecular requirements for the establishment of latency are poorly understood, but are thought to depend on epigenetic modifications of the viral episome. Here, we report a genome-wide screen to investigate DNA methylation and histone modification patterns associated with latent infection by Kaposi Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a tumor virus linked to the development of several cancers. We find that latency is likely to be determined by modifications commonly associated with genes that are transcriptionally “poised”. The promoters of such genes harbor activating as well as repressive histone marks such that they are silenced, but they can be rapidly activated upon removal of the repressive marks. Our findings thus may explain how KSHV achieves efficient quiescence during latency, yet retains the potential to quickly revert to a fully active state upon induction of the lytic cycle.
PMCID: PMC2880564  PMID: 20532208
8.  Alcohol exposure alters DNA methylation profiles in mouse embryos at early neurulation 
Alcohol exposure during development can cause variable neurofacial deficit and growth retardation known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The mechanism underlying FASD is not fully understood. However, alcohol, which is known to affect methyl donor metabolism, may induce aberrant epigenetic changes contributing to FASD. Using a tightly controlled whole-embryo culture, we investigated the effect of alcohol exposure (88 mM) at early embryonic neurulation on genome-wide DNA methylation and gene expression in the C57BL/6 mouse. The DNA methylation landscape around promoter CpG islands at early mouse development was analyzed using MeDIP (methylated DNA immunoprecipitation) coupled with microarray (MeDIP-chip). At early neurulation, genes associated with high CpG promoters (HCP) had a lower ratio of methylation but a greater ratio of expression. Alcohol-induced alterations in DNA methylation were observed, particularly in genes on chromosomes 7, 10 and X; remarkably, a >10 fold increase in the number of genes with increased methylation on chromosomes 10 and X was observed in alcohol-exposed embryos with a neural tube defect phenotype compared to embryos without a neural tube defect. Significant changes in methylation were seen in imprinted genes, genes known to play roles in cell cycle, growth, apoptosis, cancer, and in a large number of genes associated with olfaction. Altered methylation was associated with significant (p < 0.01) changes in expression for 84 genes. Sequenom EpiTYPER DNA methylation analysis was used for validation of the MeDIP-chip data. Increased methylation of genes known to play a role in metabolism (Cyp4f13) and decreased methylation of genes associated with development (Nlgn3, Elavl2, Sox21 and Sim1), imprinting (Igf2r) and chromatin (Hist1h3d) was confirmed. In a mouse model for FASD, we show for the first time that alcohol exposure during early neurulation can induce aberrant changes in DNA methylation patterns with associated changes in gene expression, which together may contribute to the observed abnormal fetal development.
PMCID: PMC2805036  PMID: 20009564
fetal alcohol syndrome; epigenetics; MeDIP-chip; sequenom mass array; microarray; neural tube defect
9.  Resources for methylome analysis suitable for gene knockout studies of potential epigenome modifiers 
GigaScience  2012;1:3.
Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) is a popular enrichment based method and can be combined with sequencing (termed MeDIP-seq) to interrogate the methylation status of cytosines across entire genomes. However, quality control and analysis of MeDIP-seq data have remained to be a challenge.
We report genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of wild type (wt) and mutant mouse cells, comprising 3 biological replicates of Thymine DNA glycosylase (Tdg) knockout (KO) embryonic stem cells (ESCs), in vitro differentiated neural precursor cells (NPCs) and embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). The resulting 18 methylomes were analysed with MeDUSA (Methylated DNA Utility for Sequence Analysis), a novel MeDIP-seq computational analysis pipeline for the identification of differentially methylated regions (DMRs). The observed increase of hypermethylation in MEF promoter-associated CpG islands supports a previously proposed role for Tdg in the protection of regulatory regions from epigenetic silencing. Further analysis of genes and regions associated with the DMRs by gene ontology, pathway, and ChIP analyses revealed further insights into Tdg function, including an association of TDG with low-methylated distal regulatory regions.
We demonstrate that MeDUSA is able to detect both large-scale changes between cells from different stages of differentiation and also small but significant changes between the methylomes of cells that only differ in the KO of a single gene. These changes were validated utilising publicly available datasets and confirm TDG's function in the protection of regulatory regions from epigenetic silencing.
PMCID: PMC3617451  PMID: 23587164
Methylome; MeDIP-seq; Epigenetics; Epigenomics; DNA methylation; Computational pipeline; MeDUSA
10.  Alterations of Epigenetic Signatures in Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4α Deficient Mouse Liver Determined by Improved ChIP-qPCR and (h)MeDIP-qPCR Assays 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84925.
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) is a liver-enriched transcription factor essential for liver development and function. In hepatocytes, HNF4α regulates a large number of genes important for nutrient/xenobiotic metabolism and cell differentiation and proliferation. Currently, little is known about the epigenetic mechanism of gene regulation by HNF4α. In this study, the global and specific alterations at the selected gene loci of representative histone modifications and DNA methylations were investigated in Hnf4a-deficient female mouse livers using the improved MeDIP-, hMeDIP- and ChIP-qPCR assay. Hnf4a deficiency significantly increased hepatic total IPed DNA fragments for histone H3 lysine-4 dimethylation (H3K4me2), H3K4me3, H3K9me2, H3K27me3 and H3K4 acetylation, but not for H3K9me3, 5-methylcytosine,or 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. At specific gene loci, the relative enrichments of histone and DNA modifications were changed to different degree in Hnf4a-deficient mouse liver. Among the epigenetic signatures investigated, changes in H3K4me3 correlated the best with mRNA expression. Additionally, Hnf4a-deficient livers had increased mRNA expression of histone H1.2 and H3.3 as well as epigenetic modifiers Dnmt1, Tet3, Setd7, Kmt2c, Ehmt2, and Ezh2. In conclusion, the present study provides convenient improved (h)MeDIP- and ChIP-qPCR assays for epigenetic study. Hnf4a deficiency in young-adult mouse liver markedly alters histone methylation and acetylation, with fewer effects on DNA methylation and 5-hydroxymethylation. The underlying mechanism may be the induction of epigenetic enzymes responsible for the addition/removal of the epigenetic signatures, and/or the loss of HNF4α per se as a key coordinator for epigenetic modifiers.
PMCID: PMC3888413  PMID: 24427299
11.  MiR-185 Targets the DNA Methyltransferases 1 and Regulates Global DNA Methylation in human glioma 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:124.
Perturbation of DNA methylation is frequent in cancers and has emerged as an important mechanism involved in tumorigenesis. To determine how DNA methylation is modified in the genome of primary glioma, we used Methyl-DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and Nimblegen CpG promoter microarrays to identify differentially DNA methylation sequences between primary glioma and normal brain tissue samples.
MeDIP-chip technology was used to investigate the whole-genome differential methylation patterns in glioma and normal brain tissues. Subsequently, the promoter methylation status of eight candidate genes was validated in 40 glioma samples and 4 cell lines by Sequenom's MassARRAY system. Then, the epigenetically regulated expression of these genes and the potential mechanisms were examined by chromatin immunoprecipitation and quantitative real-time PCR.
A total of 524 hypermethylated and 104 hypomethylated regions were identified in glioma. Among them, 216 hypermethylated and 60 hypomethylated regions were mapped to the promoters of known genes related to a variety of important cellular processes. Eight promoter-hypermethylated genes (ANKDD1A, GAD1, HIST1H3E, PCDHA8, PCDHA13, PHOX2B, SIX3, and SST) were confirmed in primary glioma and cell lines. Aberrant promoter methylation and changed histone modifications were associated with their reduced expression in glioma. In addition, we found loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the miR-185 locus located in the 22q11.2 in glioma and induction of miR-185 over-expression reduced global DNA methylation and induced the expression of the promoter-hypermethylated genes in glioma cells by directly targeting the DNA methyltransferases 1.
These comprehensive data may provide new insights into the epigenetic pathogenesis of human gliomas.
PMCID: PMC3193026  PMID: 21962230
DNA methylation; MiR-185; Glioma; DNMT1
12.  Phenobarbital Mediates an Epigenetic Switch at the Constitutive Androstane Receptor (CAR) Target Gene Cyp2b10 in the Liver of B6C3F1 Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18216.
Evidence suggests that epigenetic perturbations are involved in the adverse effects associated with some drugs and toxicants, including certain classes of non-genotoxic carcinogens. Such epigenetic changes (altered DNA methylation and covalent histone modifications) may take place at the earliest stages of carcinogenesis and their identification holds great promise for biomedical research. Here, we evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of genome-wide epigenomic and transcriptomic profiling in phenobarbital (PB)-treated B6C3F1 mice, a well-characterized rodent model of non-genotoxic liver carcinogenesis. Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP)-coupled microarray profiling of 17,967 promoter regions and 4,566 intergenic CpG islands was combined with genome-wide mRNA expression profiling to identify liver tissue-specific PB-mediated DNA methylation and transcriptional alterations. Only a limited number of significant anti-correlations were observed between PB-induced transcriptional and promoter-based DNA methylation perturbations. However, the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) target gene Cyp2b10 was found to be concomitantly hypomethylated and transcriptionally activated in a liver tissue-specific manner following PB treatment. Furthermore, analysis of active and repressive histone modifications using chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed a strong PB-mediated epigenetic switch at the Cyp2b10 promoter. Our data reveal that PB-induced transcriptional perturbations are not generally associated with broad changes in the DNA methylation status at proximal promoters and suggest that the drug-inducible CAR pathway regulates an epigenetic switch from repressive to active chromatin at the target gene Cyp2b10. This study demonstrates the utility of integrated epigenomic and transcriptomic profiling for elucidating early mechanisms and biomarkers of non-genotoxic carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3063791  PMID: 21455306
13.  Global MYCN Transcription Factor Binding Analysis in Neuroblastoma Reveals Association with Distinct E-Box Motifs and Regions of DNA Hypermethylation 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8154.
Neuroblastoma, a cancer derived from precursor cells of the sympathetic nervous system, is a major cause of childhood cancer related deaths. The single most important prognostic indicator of poor clinical outcome in this disease is genomic amplification of MYCN, a member of a family of oncogenic transcription factors.
We applied MYCN chromatin immunoprecipitation to microarrays (ChIP-chip) using MYCN amplified/non-amplified cell lines as well as a conditional knockdown cell line to determine the distribution of MYCN binding sites within all annotated promoter regions.
Assessment of E-box usage within consistently positive MYCN binding sites revealed a predominance for the CATGTG motif (p<0.0016), with significant enrichment of additional motifs CATTTG, CATCTG, CAACTG in the MYCN amplified state. For cell lines over-expressing MYCN, gene ontology analysis revealed enrichment for the binding of MYCN at promoter regions of numerous molecular functional groups including DNA helicases and mRNA transcriptional regulation. In order to evaluate MYCN binding with respect to other genomic features, we determined the methylation status of all annotated CpG islands and promoter sequences using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP). The integration of MYCN ChIP-chip and MeDIP data revealed a highly significant positive correlation between MYCN binding and DNA hypermethylation. This association was also detected in regions of hemizygous loss, indicating that the observed association occurs on the same homologue. In summary, these findings suggest that MYCN binding occurs more commonly at CATGTG as opposed to the classic CACGTG E-box motif, and that disease associated over expression of MYCN leads to aberrant binding to additional weaker affinity E-box motifs in neuroblastoma. The co-localization of MYCN binding and DNA hypermethylation further supports the dual role of MYCN, namely that of a classical transcription factor affecting the activity of individual genes, and that of a mediator of global chromatin structure.
PMCID: PMC2781550  PMID: 19997598
14.  Clinical and public health research using methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP): A comparison of commercially available kits to examine differential DNA methylation across the genome 
Epigenetics  2012;7(1):106-112.
The methylated DNA immunoprecipitation method (MeDIP) is a genome-wide, high-resolution approach that detects DNA methylation with oligonucleotide tiling arrays or high throughput sequencing platforms. A simplified high-throughput MeDIP assay will enable translational research studies in clinics and populations, which will greatly enhance our understanding of the human methylome. We compared three commercial kits, MagMeDIP Kit TM (Diagenode), Methylated-DNA IP Kit (Zymo Research) and Methylamp™ Methylated DNA Capture Kit (Epigentek), in order to identify which one has better reliability and sensitivity for genomic DNA enrichment. Each kit was used to enrich two samples, one from fresh tissue and one from a cell line, with two different DNA amounts. The enrichment efficiency of each kit was evaluated by agarose gel band intensity after Nco I digestion and by reaction yield of methylated DNA. A successful enrichment is expected to have a 1:4 to 10:1 conversion ratio and a yield of 80% or higher. We also evaluated the hybridization efficiency to genome-wide methylation arrays in a separate cohort of tissue samples. We observed that the MagMeDIP kit had the highest yield for the two DNA amounts and for both the tissue and cell line samples, as well as for the positive control. In addition, the DNA was successfully enriched from a 1:4 to 10:1 ratio. Therefore, the MagMeDIP kit is a useful research tool that will enable clinical and public health genome-wide DNA methylation studies.
PMCID: PMC3337832  PMID: 22207357
differential methylation; Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP); translational research genome-wide promoter methylation
15.  Generation of a genomic tiling array of the human Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and its application for DNA methylation analysis 
BMC Medical Genomics  2008;1:19.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is essential for human immunity and is highly associated with common diseases, including cancer. While the genetics of the MHC has been studied intensively for many decades, very little is known about the epigenetics of this most polymorphic and disease-associated region of the genome.
To facilitate comprehensive epigenetic analyses of this region, we have generated a genomic tiling array of 2 Kb resolution covering the entire 4 Mb MHC region. The array has been designed to be compatible with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP), array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and expression profiling, including of non-coding RNAs. The array comprises 7832 features, consisting of two replicates of both forward and reverse strands of MHC amplicons and appropriate controls.
Using MeDIP, we demonstrate the application of the MHC array for DNA methylation profiling and the identification of tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs). Based on the analysis of two tissues and two cell types, we identified 90 tDMRs within the MHC and describe their characterisation.
A tiling array covering the MHC region was developed and validated. Its successful application for DNA methylation profiling indicates that this array represents a useful tool for molecular analyses of the MHC in the context of medical genomics.
PMCID: PMC2430202  PMID: 18513384
16.  Alcohol alters DNA Methylation Patterns and Inhibits Neural Stem Cell Differentiation 
Potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) include alcohol-induced alterations of methyl metabolism, resulting in aberrant patterns of DNA methylation and gene expression during development. Having previously demonstrated an essential role for epigenetics in neural stem cell (NSC) development and that inhibiting DNA methylation prevents NSC differentiation, here we investigated the effect of alcohol exposure on genome-wide DNA methylation patterns and NSC differentiation.
NSCs in culture were treated with or without a 6-hr 88mM (“binge-like”) alcohol exposure and examined at 48 hrs, for migration, growth, and genome-wide DNA methylation. The DNA methylation was examined using DNA-methylation immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) followed by microarray analysis. Further validation was performed using Independent Sequenom analysis.
NSC differentiated in 24 to 48 hrs with migration, neuronal expression, and morphological transformation. Alcohol exposure retarded the migration, neuronal formation, and growth processes of NSC, similar to treatment with the methylation inhibitor 5-aza-cytidine. When NSC departed from the quiescent state, a genome-wide diversification of DNA methylation was observed—that is, many moderately methylated genes altered methylation levels and became hyper- and hypomethylated. Alcohol prevented many genes from such diversification, including genes related to neural development, neuronal receptors, and olfaction, while retarding differentiation. Validation of specific genes by Sequenom analysis demonstrated that alcohol exposure prevented methylation of specific genes associated with neural development [cutl2 (cut-like 2), Igf1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), Efemp1 (epidermal growth factor-containing fibulin-like extracellular matrix protein 1), and Sox 7 (SRY-box containing gene 7)]; eye development, Lim 2 (lens intrinsic membrane protein 2); the epigenetic mark Smarca2 (SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 2); and developmental disorder [Dgcr2 (DiGeorge syndrome critical region gene 2)]. Specific sites altered by DNA methylation also correlated with transcription factor binding sites known to be critical for regulating neural development.
The data indicate that alcohol prevents normal DNA methylation programming of key neural stem cell genes and retards NSC differentiation. Thus, the role of DNA methylation in FAS warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3076804  PMID: 21223309
Epigenetics; Epigenomics; MeDIP-Chip; Neural development; Fetal alcohol syndrome
17.  Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation 
The identification of DNA methylation patterns is a common procedure in the study of epigenetics, as methylation is known to have significant effects on gene expression, and is involved with normal development as well as disease 1-4. Thus, the ability to discriminate between methylated DNA and non-methylated DNA is essential for generating methylation profiles for such studies. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) is an efficient technique for the extraction of methylated DNA from a sample of interest 5-7. A sample of as little as 200 ng of DNA is sufficient for the antibody, or immunoprecipitation (IP), reaction. DNA is sonicated into fragments ranging in size from 300-1000 bp, and is divided into immunoprecipitated (IP) and input (IN) portions. IP DNA is subsequently heat denatured and then incubated with anti-5'mC, allowing the monoclonal antibody to bind methylated DNA. After this, magnetic beads containing a secondary antibody with affinity for the primary antibody are added, and incubated. These bead-linked antibodies will bind the monoclonal antibody used in the first step. DNA bound to the antibody complex (methylated DNA) is separated from the rest of the DNA by using a magnet to pull the complexes out of solution. Several washes using IP buffer are then performed to remove the unbound, non-methylated DNA. The methylated DNA/antibody complexes are then digested with Proteinase K to digest the antibodies leaving only the methylated DNA intact. The enriched DNA is purified by phenol:chloroform extraction to remove the protein matter and then precipitated and resuspended in water for later use. PCR techniques can be used to validate the efficiency of the MeDIP procedure by analyzing the amplification products of IP and IN DNA for regions known to lack and known to contain methylated sequences. The purified methylated DNA can then be used for locus-specific (PCR) or genome-wide (microarray and sequencing) methylation studies, and is particularly useful when applied in conjunction with other research tools such as gene expression profiling and array comparative genome hybridization (CGH) 8. Further investigation into DNA methylation will lead to the discovery of new epigenetic targets, which in turn, may be useful in developing new therapeutic or prognostic research tools for diseases such as cancer that are characterized by aberrantly methylated DNA 2, 4, 9-11.
PMCID: PMC2763296  PMID: 19241501
18.  AutoMeDIP-seq: A high-throughput, whole genome, DNA methylation assay 
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)  2010;52(3-13):223-231.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark linking DNA sequence and transcription regulation, and therefore plays an important role in phenotypic plasticity. The ideal whole genome methylation (methylome) assay should be accurate, affordable, high-throughput and agnostic with respect to genomic features. To this end, the methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) assay provides a good balance of these criteria. In this Methods paper, we present AutoMeDIP-seq, a technique that combines an automated MeDIP protocol with library preparation steps for subsequent second-generation sequencing. We assessed recovery of DNA sequences covering a range of CpG densities using in vitro methylated λ-DNA fragments (and their unmethylated counterparts) spiked-in against a background of human genomic DNA. We show that AutoMeDIP is more reliable than manual protocols, shows a linear recovery profile of fragments related to CpG density (R2 = 0.86), and that it is highly specific (>99%). AutoMeDIP-seq offers a competitive approach to high-throughput methylome analysis of medium to large cohorts.
PMCID: PMC2977854  PMID: 20385236
DNA methylation; Automation; Whole genome; High-throughput sequencing; MeDIP
19.  Differential DNA Methylation Correlates with Differential Expression of Angiogenic Factors in Human Heart Failure 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8564.
Epigenetic mechanisms such as microRNA and histone modification are crucially responsible for dysregulated gene expression in heart failure. In contrast, the role of DNA methylation, another well-characterized epigenetic mark, is unknown. In order to examine whether human cardiomyopathy of different etiologies are connected by a unifying pattern of DNA methylation pattern, we undertook profiling with ischaemic and idiopathic end-stage cardiomyopathic left ventricular (LV) explants from patients who had undergone cardiac transplantation compared to normal control. We performed a preliminary analysis using methylated-DNA immunoprecipitation-chip (MeDIP-chip), validated differential methylation loci by bisulfite-(BS) PCR and high throughput sequencing, and identified 3 angiogenesis-related genetic loci that were differentially methylated. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we found that the expression of these genes differed significantly between CM hearts and normal control (p<0.01). Moreover, for each individual LV tissue, differential methylation showed a predicted correlation to differential expression of the corresponding gene. Thus, differential DNA methylation exists in human cardiomyopathy. In this series of heterogenous cardiomyopathic LV explants, differential DNA methylation was found in at least 3 angiogenesis-related genes. While in other systems, changes in DNA methylation at specific genomic loci usually precede changes in the expression of corresponding genes, our current findings in cardiomyopathy merit further investigation to determine whether DNA methylation changes play a causative role in the progression of heart failure.
PMCID: PMC2797324  PMID: 20084101
20.  Dynamic DNA cytosine methylation in the Populus trichocarpa genome: tissue-level variation and relationship to gene expression 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:27.
DNA cytosine methylation is an epigenetic modification that has been implicated in many biological processes. However, large-scale epigenomic studies have been applied to very few plant species, and variability in methylation among specialized tissues and its relationship to gene expression is poorly understood.
We surveyed DNA methylation from seven distinct tissue types (vegetative bud, male inflorescence [catkin], female catkin, leaf, root, xylem, phloem) in the reference tree species black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa). Using 5-methyl-cytosine DNA immunoprecipitation followed by Illumina sequencing (MeDIP-seq), we mapped a total of 129,360,151 36- or 32-mer reads to the P. trichocarpa reference genome. We validated MeDIP-seq results by bisulfite sequencing, and compared methylation and gene expression using published microarray data. Qualitative DNA methylation differences among tissues were obvious on a chromosome scale. Methylated genes had lower expression than unmethylated genes, but genes with methylation in transcribed regions ("gene body methylation") had even lower expression than genes with promoter methylation. Promoter methylation was more frequent than gene body methylation in all tissues except male catkins. Male catkins differed in demethylation of particular transposable element categories, in level of gene body methylation, and in expression range of genes with methylated transcribed regions. Tissue-specific gene expression patterns were correlated with both gene body and promoter methylation.
We found striking differences among tissues in methylation, which were apparent at the chromosomal scale and when genes and transposable elements were examined. In contrast to other studies in plants, gene body methylation had a more repressive effect on transcription than promoter methylation.
PMCID: PMC3298464  PMID: 22251412
Epigenetics; epigenomics; DNA methylation; 5-methylcytosine; Populus
21.  A tripartite paternally methylated region within the Gpr1-Zdbf2 imprinted domain on mouse chromosome 1 identified by meDIP-on-chip 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(15):4929-4945.
The parent-of-origin specific expression of imprinted genes relies on DNA methylation of CpG-dinucleotides at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) during gametogenesis. To date, four paternally methylated DMRs have been identified in screens based on conventional approaches. These DMRs are linked to the imprinted genes H19, Gtl2 (IG-DMR), Rasgrf1 and, most recently, Zdbf2 which encodes zinc finger, DBF-type containing 2. In this study, we applied a novel methylated-DNA immunoprecipitation-on-chip (meDIP-on-chip) method to genomic DNA from mouse parthenogenetic- and androgenetic-derived stem cells and sperm and identified 458 putative DMRs. This included the majority of known DMRs. We further characterized the paternally methylated Zdbf2/ZDBF2 DMR. In mice, this extensive germ line DMR spanned 16 kb and possessed an unusual tripartite structure. Methylation was dependent on DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a), similar to H19 DMR and IG-DMR. In both humans and mice, the adjacent gene, Gpr1/GPR1, which encodes a G-protein-coupled receptor 1 protein with transmembrane domain, was also imprinted and paternally expressed. The Gpr1-Zdbf2 domain was most similar to the Rasgrf1 domain as both DNA methylation and the actively expressed allele were in cis on the paternal chromosome. This work demonstrates the effectiveness of meDIP-on-chip as a technique for identifying DMRs.
PMCID: PMC2926594  PMID: 20385583
22.  Genome Wide Analysis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Reveal Leukemia Specific Methylome and Subtype Specific Hypomethylation of Repeats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33213.
Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (MeDIP-seq) has the potential to identify changes in DNA methylation important in cancer development. In order to understand the role of epigenetic modulation in the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) we have applied MeDIP-seq to the DNA of 12 AML patients and 4 normal bone marrows. This analysis revealed leukemia-associated differentially methylated regions that included gene promoters, gene bodies, CpG islands and CpG island shores. Two genes (SPHKAP and DPP6) with significantly methylated promoters were of interest and further analysis of their expression showed them to be repressed in AML. We also demonstrated considerable cytogenetic subtype specificity in the methylomes affecting different genomic features. Significantly distinct patterns of hypomethylation of certain interspersed repeat elements were associated with cytogenetic subtypes. The methylation patterns of members of the SINE family tightly clustered all leukemic patients with an enrichment of Alu repeats with a high CpG density (P<0.0001). We were able to demonstrate significant inverse correlation between intragenic interspersed repeat sequence methylation and gene expression with SINEs showing the strongest inverse correlation (R2 = 0.7). We conclude that the alterations in DNA methylation that accompany the development of AML affect not only the promoters, but also the non-promoter genomic features, with significant demethylation of certain interspersed repeat DNA elements being associated with AML cytogenetic subtypes. MeDIP-seq data were validated using bisulfite pyrosequencing and the Infinium array.
PMCID: PMC3315563  PMID: 22479372
23.  Genome-wide analysis of aberrant methylation in human breast cancer cells using methyl-DNA immunoprecipitation combined with high-throughput sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:137.
Cancer cells undergo massive alterations to their DNA methylation patterns that result in aberrant gene expression and malignant phenotypes. However, the mechanisms that underlie methylome changes are not well understood nor is the genomic distribution of DNA methylation changes well characterized.
Here, we performed methylated DNA immunoprecipitation combined with high-throughput sequencing (MeDIP-seq) to obtain whole-genome DNA methylation profiles for eight human breast cancer cell (BCC) lines and for normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC). The MeDIP-seq analysis generated non-biased DNA methylation maps by covering almost the entire genome with sufficient depth and resolution. The most prominent feature of the BCC lines compared to HMEC was a massively reduced methylation level particularly in CpG-poor regions. While hypomethylation did not appear to be associated with particular genomic features, hypermethylation preferentially occurred at CpG-rich gene-related regions independently of the distance from transcription start sites. We also investigated methylome alterations during epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in MCF7 cells. EMT induction was associated with specific alterations to the methylation patterns of gene-related CpG-rich regions, although overall methylation levels were not significantly altered. Moreover, approximately 40% of the epithelial cell-specific methylation patterns in gene-related regions were altered to those typical of mesenchymal cells, suggesting a cell-type specific regulation of DNA methylation.
This study provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the methylome of human mammary cell lines and has produced novel insights into the mechanisms of methylome alteration during tumorigenesis and the interdependence between DNA methylome alterations and morphological changes.
PMCID: PMC2838848  PMID: 20181289
24.  The effects of olanzapine on genome-wide DNA methylation in the hippocampus and cerebellum 
Clinical Epigenetics  2014;6(1):1.
The mechanism of action of olanzapine in treating schizophrenia is not clear. This research reports the effects of a therapeutic equivalent treatment of olanzapine on DNA methylation in a rat model in vivo.
Genome-wide DNA methylation was assessed using a MeDIP-chip analysis. All methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP), sample labelling, hybridization and processing were performed by Arraystar Inc (Rockville, MD, USA). The identified gene promoters showing significant alterations to DNA methylation were then subjected to Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (Ingenuity System Inc, CA, USA).
The results show that olanzapine causes an increase in methylation in 1,140, 1,294 and 1,313 genes and a decrease in methylation in 633, 565 and 532 genes in the hippocampus, cerebellum and liver, respectively. Most genes affected are tissue specific. Only 41 affected genes (approximately 3%) showed an increase and no gene showed a decrease in methylation in all three tissues. Further, the two brain regions shared 123 affected genes (approximately 10%). The affected genes are enriched in pathways affecting dopamine signalling, molecular transport, nervous system development and functions in the hippocampus; ephrin receptor signalling and synaptic long-term potentiation in the cerebellum; and tissue morphology, cellular assembly and organization in the liver. Also, the affected genes included those previously implicated in psychosis.
The known functions of affected genes suggest that the observed epigenetic changes may underlie the amelioration of symptoms as well as accounting for certain adverse effects including the metabolic syndrome. The results give insights into the mechanism of action of olanzapine, therapeutic effects and the side effects of antipsychotics.
PMCID: PMC3895844  PMID: 24382160
Epigenetic; Hippocampus; Cerebellum; DNA methylation; Psychosis; Rat
25.  Histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) participates in the transcriptional repression of the p16INK4a gene in mammary gland of the female rat offspring exposed to an early-life high-fat diet 
Epigenetics  2012;7(2):183-190.
Maternal exposure to environmental agents throughout pregnancy and lactation may affect offspring's mammary gland growth and alter the epigenome. This may predispose the offspring's mammary glands to be more susceptible to carcinogenesis. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a maternal high-fat diet on the regulation of p16INK4a gene expression in the mammary gland of rat offspring. Timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were fed one of the two diets, a control (C, 16% of fat) or a high fat (HF, 45% of fat) diet, throughout gestation and lactation and sacrificed at 12 weeks of age. Compared with C, HF offspring showed a decrease of p16INK4a gene expression in the mammary gland at both mRNA and protein levels. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay demonstrated that the downregulation of p16INK4a transcription in HF offspring was associated with reduced acetylation of histone H4 and increased recruitment of histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) within the p16INK4a promoter region, but was not associated with acetylation of histone H3 or HDAC1. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) did not detect differences in methylation at different regions of the p16INK4a gene between C and HF offspring. We conclude that maternal high fat exposure represses p16INK4a gene expression in the mammary gland of offspring through changes of histone modifications and HDAC3 binding activity within the regulatory regions of the p16INK4a gene.
PMCID: PMC3335911  PMID: 22395468
pregnancy; epigenetics; developmental programming; thrifty phenotype hypothesis

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