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1.  Discovery of bisulfite-mediated cytosine conversion to uracil, the key reaction for DNA methylation analysis — A personal account 
Methylation at position 5 of cytosine in DNA is being intensively studied in many areas of biological sciences, as the methylation is intimately associated with the control of gene functions. The principal analytical method for determining the sites of 5-methylcytosine in genome at the sequence level involves bisulfite modification of DNA. The utility of this chemical treatment is based on the property of bisulfite to selectively deaminate cytosine residues. The bisulfite-mediated cytosine deamination was discovered in 1970 by us in the University of Tokyo. At the same time, Shapiro and his coworkers in New York University found the same reaction independently. We also reported that 5-methylcytosine was deaminated by bisulfite only very slowly. These findings were later utilized by a group of Australian scientists to devise a means to analyze 5-methylcytosine in DNA; thus, a method called ‘bisulfite genomic sequencing’ was invented by these researchers in 1992. This review describes the author’s reflection of the discovery of bisulfite reactions with pyrimidine bases. The author’s recent work that has resulted in an improvement of the procedure of analysis by use of a newly devised high concentration bisulfite solution is also described.
doi:10.2183/pjab/84.321
PMCID: PMC3722019  PMID: 18941305
bisulfite; 5-methylcytosine; deamination of cytosine; concentration dependency; chemical modification
2.  Bisulfite genomic sequencing: systematic investigation of critical experimental parameters 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(13):e65.
Bisulfite genomic sequencing is the method of choice for the generation of methylation maps with single-base resolution. The method is based on the selective deamination of cytosine to uracil by treatment with bisulfite and the sequencing of subsequently generated PCR products. In contrast to cytosine, 5-methylcytosine does not react with bisulfite and can therefore be distinguished. In order to investigate the potential for optimization of the method and to determine the critical experimental parameters, we determined the influence of incubation time and incubation temperature on the deamination efficiency and measured the degree of DNA degradation during the bisulfite treatment. We found that maximum conversion rates of cytosine occurred at 55°C (4–18 h) and 95°C (1 h). Under these conditions at least 84–96% of the DNA is degraded. To study the impact of primer selection, homologous DNA templates were constructed possessing cytosine-containing and cytosine-free primer binding sites, respectively. The recognition rates for cytosine (≥97%) and 5-methylcytosine (≥94%) were found to be identical for both templates.
PMCID: PMC55789  PMID: 11433041
3.  Bisulfite Sequencing of DNA 
Exact positions of 5-methylcytosine (m5C) on a single strand of DNA can be determined by bisulfite genomic sequencing (BGS). Treatment with bisulfite ion preferentially deaminates unmethylated cytosines, which then convert to uracil upon desulfonation. Amplifying regions of interest from deaminated DNA and sequencing products cloned from amplicons permits determination of methylation at single nucleotide resolution along single DNA molecules, which is not possible with other methylation analysis techniques. This unit describes a BGS technique suitable for most DNA sources, including formaldehyde-fixed tissue. Considerations for experimental design and common sources of error are discussed.
doi:10.1002/0471142727.mb0709s91
PMCID: PMC3214597  PMID: 20583099
4.  Recovery of bisulfite-converted genomic sequences in the methylation-sensitive QPCR 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(9):2893-2903.
Many methods for the detection of genomic DNA methylation states have appeared. Currently, nearly all such methods employ bisulfite-mediated deamination of denatured DNA. While this treatment effectively deaminates cytosines to uracils, leaving most 5-methylcytosines intact, it also introduces abasic sites that generate a significant number of single-strand breaks in DNA. We have investigated the interplay of these two processes in order to determine their relative effects on the methylation-sensitive QPCR method. The extent of cleavage of the input DNA is significant and appears to be an increasing function of DNA concentration. Even so, the results suggest that only ∼10% of a 62-nt target will be lost due to degradation and targets up to 131 nt will suffer only a 20% loss. More significant losses were found to occur during the subsequent removal of bisulfite and desulfonation steps that appear to be the result of size selectivity associated with matrix binding and elution required prior to QPCR in the most commonly used protocols. For biospecimens yielding <1 μg of DNA, these findings suggest that bisulfite treatment, in current implementations of MS-QPCR, result in low recoveries that preclude reliable analysis of DNA methylation patterns regardless of target size.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm055
PMCID: PMC1888819  PMID: 17439964
5.  Errors in the bisulfite conversion of DNA: modulating inappropriate- and failed-conversion frequencies 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(22):e150.
Bisulfite treatment can be used to ascertain the methylation states of individual cytosines in DNA. Ideally, bisulfite treatment deaminates unmethylated cytosines to uracils, and leaves 5-methylcytosines unchanged. Two types of bisulfite-conversion error occur: inappropriate conversion of 5-methylcytosine to thymine, and failure to convert unmethylated cytosine to uracil. Conventional bisulfite treatment requires hours of exposure to low-molarity, low-temperature bisulfite (‘LowMT’) and, sometimes, thermal denaturation. An alternate, high-molarity, high-temperature (‘HighMT’) protocol has been reported to accelerate conversion and to reduce inappropriate conversion. We used molecular encoding to obtain validated, individual-molecule data on failed- and inappropriate-conversion frequencies for LowMT and HighMT treatments of both single-stranded and hairpin-linked oligonucleotides. After accounting for bisulfite-independent error, we found that: (i) inappropriate-conversion events accrue predominantly on molecules exposed to bisulfite after they have attained complete or near-complete conversion; (ii) the HighMT treatment is preferable because it yields greater homogeneity among sites and among molecules in conversion rates, and thus yields more reliable data; (iii) different durations of bisulfite treatment will yield data appropriate to address different experimental questions; and (iv) conversion errors can be used to assess the validity of methylation data collected without the benefit of molecular encoding.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn691
PMCID: PMC2602783  PMID: 18984622
6.  The Behaviour of 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in Bisulfite Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8888.
Background
We recently showed that enzymes of the TET family convert 5-mC to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in DNA. 5-hmC is present at high levels in embryonic stem cells and Purkinje neurons. The methylation status of cytosines is typically assessed by reaction with sodium bisulfite followed by PCR amplification. Reaction with sodium bisulfite promotes cytosine deamination, whereas 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) reacts poorly with bisulfite and is resistant to deamination. Since 5-hmC reacts with bisulfite to yield cytosine 5-methylenesulfonate (CMS), we asked how DNA containing 5-hmC behaves in bisulfite sequencing.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used synthetic oligonucleotides with different distributions of cytosine as templates for generation of DNAs containing C, 5-mC and 5-hmC. The resulting DNAs were subjected in parallel to bisulfite treatment, followed by exposure to conditions promoting cytosine deamination. The extent of conversion of 5-hmC to CMS was estimated to be 99.7%. Sequencing of PCR products showed that neither 5-mC nor 5-hmC undergo C-to-T transitions after bisulfite treatment, confirming that these two modified cytosine species are indistinguishable by the bisulfite technique. DNA in which CMS constituted a large fraction of all bases (28/201) was much less efficiently amplified than DNA in which those bases were 5-mC or uracil (the latter produced by cytosine deamination). Using a series of primer extension experiments, we traced the inefficient amplification of CMS-containing DNA to stalling of Taq polymerase at sites of CMS modification, especially when two CMS bases were either adjacent to one another or separated by 1–2 nucleotides.
Conclusions
We have confirmed that the widely used bisulfite sequencing technique does not distinguish between 5-mC and 5-hmC. Moreover, we show that CMS, the product of bisulfite conversion of 5-hmC, tends to stall DNA polymerases during PCR, suggesting that densely hydroxymethylated regions of DNA may be underrepresented in quantitative methylation analyses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008888
PMCID: PMC2811190  PMID: 20126651
7.  MethTools—a toolbox to visualize and analyze DNA methylation data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(5):1053-1058.
The Bisulfite Genomic Sequencing technique has found wide acceptance for the generation of DNA-methylation maps with single-base resolution. The method is based on the selective deamination of cytosine to uracil (and subsequent conversion to thymine via PCR), whereas 5-methylcytosine residues remain unchanged. Methylation maps are created by the comparison of bisulfite converted sequences with the untreated genomic sequence. ‘MethTools’ is a collection of software tools that replaces the time-consuming manual comparison process, generates graphical outputs of methylation patterns and methylation density, estimates the systematic error of the experiment and searches for conserved methylated nucleotide patterns. The programs are written in Perl 5 and C, and the source code can be downloaded. All tools run independently but the programs are interfaced. Thus, a script can perform the entire analysis procedure automatically. In addition, a web-based remote analysis service is offered. Both the source code and the remote analysis are available at http://genome.imb-jena.de/methtools/
PMCID: PMC102603  PMID: 10666443
8.  Rapid quantitation of methylation differences at specific sites using methylation-sensitive single nucleotide primer extension (Ms-SNuPE). 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(12):2529-2531.
We have developed a rapid quantitative method (Ms-SNuPE) for assessing methylation differences at specific CpG sites based on bisulfite treatment of DNA followed by single nucleotide primer extension. Genomic DNA was first reacted with sodium bisulfite to convert unmethylated cytosine to uracil while leaving 5-methylcytosine unchanged. Amplification of the desired target sequence was then performed using PCR primers specific for bisulfite-converted DNA and the resulting product isolated and used as a template for methylation analysis at the CpG site(s) of interest. This methylation-sensitive technique has several advantages over existing methods used for detection of methylation changes because small amounts of DNA can be analyzed including microdissected pathology sections and it avoids utilization of restriction enzymes for determining the methylation status at CpG sites.
PMCID: PMC146734  PMID: 9171109
9.  A new method for accurate assessment of DNA quality after bisulfite treatment 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(5):e29.
The covalent addition of methylgroups to cytosine has become the most intensively researched epigenetic DNA marker. The vast majority of technologies used for DNA methylation analysis rely on a chemical reaction, the so-called ‘bisulfite treatment’, which introduces methylation-dependent sequence changes through selective chemical conversion of non-methylated cytosine to uracil. After treatment, all non-methylated cytosine bases are converted to uracil but all methylated cytosine bases remain cytosine. These methylation dependent C-to-T changes can subsequently be studied using conventional DNA analysis technologies.
The bisulfite conversion protocol is susceptible to processing errors, and small deviation from the protocol can result in failure of the treatment. Several attempts have been made to simplify the procedure and increase its robustness. Although significant achievements in this area have been made, bisulfite treatment remains the main source of process variability in the analysis of DNA methylation. This variability in particular impairs assays, which strive for the quantitative assessment of DNA methylation. Here we present basic mathematical considerations, which should be taken into account when analyzing DNA methylation. We also introduce a PCR-based assay, which allows ab initio assessment of the DNA quality after bisulfite treatment and can help to prevent inaccurate quantitative measurement resulting from poor bisulfite treatment.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl1134
PMCID: PMC1865059  PMID: 17259213
10.  Comparison of bisulfite modification of 5-methyldeoxycytidine and deoxycytidine residues. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1980;8(20):4777-4790.
Sodium bisulfite is a mutagen which can specifically deaminate more than 96% of the cytosine residues in single-stranded DNA via formation of a 5,6-dihydrocytosine-6-sulfonate intermediate. Under the same reaction conditions, only 2-3% of the 5-methylcytosine (m5Cyt) residues in single-stranded XP-12 DNA, which has 34 mole% m5Cyt, was converted to thymine (Thy) residues. In contrast, at the deoxynucleoside and free base levels, the same treatment with bisulfite and then alkali converted 51% and > 95%, respectively, of the m5Cyt to the corresponding Thy derivatives. However, the rate of reaction of m5Cyt and its deoxyribonucleoside was much slower than that of the analogous quantitative conversion of cytosine or deoxycytidine to uracil or deoxyuridine, respectively. The much lower reactivity of m5Cyt and its derivatives compared to that of the unmethylated analogs is primarily due to a decrease in the rate of formation of the sulfonate adduct.
PMCID: PMC324387  PMID: 7443525
11.  A Modified Protocol for Bisulfite Genomic Sequencing of Difficult Samples 
The bisulfite genomic sequencing protocol is a widely used method for analyzing DNA methylation. It relies on the deamination of unmethylated cytosine residues to uracil; however, its high rates of DNA degradation and incomplete cytosine to uracil conversion often lead to failed experiments, uninformative results, and false positives. Here, we report the addition of a single-step multiple restriction enzyme digestion (MRED) designed to differentially digest polymerase chain reaction products amplified from unconverted DNA while leaving those of converted DNA intact. We show that for our model system, RARB2 P2 promoter, use of MRED increased informative sequencings ninefold, and MRED did not alter the clonal representation in one fully methylated cell line, H-596, treated or not with 5-azadeoxycytidine, a methylation inhibitor. We believe that this method may easily be adapted for analyzing other genes and provide guidelines for selecting the most appropriate MRED restriction enzymes.
doi:10.1007/s12575-009-9010-3
PMCID: PMC3055914  PMID: 19551458
bisulfite genomic sequencing; multiple restriction enzyme digestion; methylation
12.  Kismeth: Analyzer of plant methylation states through bisulfite sequencing 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:371.
Background
There is great interest in probing the temporal and spatial patterns of cytosine methylation states in genomes of a variety of organisms. It is hoped that this will shed light on the biological roles of DNA methylation in the epigenetic control of gene expression. Bisulfite sequencing refers to the treatment of isolated DNA with sodium bisulfite to convert unmethylated cytosine to uracil, with PCR converting the uracil to thymidine followed by sequencing of the resultant DNA to detect DNA methylation. For the study of DNA methylation, plants provide an excellent model system, since they can tolerate major changes in their DNA methylation patterns and have long been studied for the effects of DNA methylation on transposons and epimutations. However, in contrast to the situation in animals, there aren't many tools that analyze bisulfite data in plants, which can exhibit methylation of cytosines in a variety of sequence contexts (CG, CHG, and CHH).
Results
Kismeth is a web-based tool for bisulfite sequencing analysis. Kismeth was designed to be used with plants, since it considers potential cytosine methylation in any sequence context (CG, CHG, and CHH). It provides a tool for the design of bisulfite primers as well as several tools for the analysis of the bisulfite sequencing results. Kismeth is not limited to data from plants, as it can be used with data from any species.
Conclusion
Kismeth simplifies bisulfite sequencing analysis. It is the only publicly available tool for the design of bisulfite primers for plants, and one of the few tools for the analysis of methylation patterns in plants. It facilitates analysis at both global and local scales, demonstrated in the examples cited in the text, allowing dissection of the genetic pathways involved in DNA methylation. Kismeth can also be used to study methylation states in different tissues and disease cells compared to a reference sequence.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-371
PMCID: PMC2553349  PMID: 18786255
13.  Whole Methylome Analysis by Ultra-Deep Sequencing Using Two-Base Encoding 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9320.
Methylation, the addition of methyl groups to cytosine (C), plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression in both normal and dysfunctional cells. During bisulfite conversion and subsequent PCR amplification, unmethylated Cs are converted into thymine (T), while methylated Cs will not be converted. Sequencing of this bisulfite-treated DNA permits the detection of methylation at specific sites. Through the introduction of next-generation sequencing technologies (NGS) simultaneous analysis of methylation motifs in multiple regions provides the opportunity for hypothesis-free study of the entire methylome. Here we present a whole methylome sequencing study that compares two different bisulfite conversion methods (in solution versus in gel), utilizing the high throughput of the SOLiD™ System. Advantages and disadvantages of the two different bisulfite conversion methods for constructing sequencing libraries are discussed. Furthermore, the application of the SOLiD™ bisulfite sequencing to larger and more complex genomes is shown with preliminary in silico created bisulfite converted reads.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009320
PMCID: PMC2825269  PMID: 20179767
14.  Control of carry-over contamination for PCR-based DNA methylation quantification using bisulfite treated DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(1):e4.
In this study, we adapted the well known uracil DNA glycosylase (UNG) carry-over prevention system for PCR, and applied it to the analysis of DNA methylation based on sodium bisulfite conversion. As sodium bisulfite treatment converts unmethylated cytosine bases into uracil residues, bisulfite treated DNA is sensitive to UNG treatment. Therefore, UNG cannot be used for carry-over prevention of PCR using bisulfite treated template DNA, as not only contaminating products of previous PCR, but also the actual template will be degraded. We modified the bisulfite treatment procedure and generated DNA containing sulfonated uracil residues. Surprisingly, and in contrast to uracil, 6-sulfonyl uracil containing DNA (SafeBis DNA) is resistant to UNG. We showed that the new procedure removes up to 10 000 copies of contaminating PCR product in a closed PCR vessel without significant loss of analytical or clinical sensitivity of the DNA methylation analysis.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl955
PMCID: PMC1747185  PMID: 17135186
15.  BSMAP: whole genome bisulfite sequence MAPping program 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:232.
Background
Bisulfite sequencing is a powerful technique to study DNA cytosine methylation. Bisulfite treatment followed by PCR amplification specifically converts unmethylated cytosines to thymine. Coupled with next generation sequencing technology, it is able to detect the methylation status of every cytosine in the genome. However, mapping high-throughput bisulfite reads to the reference genome remains a great challenge due to the increased searching space, reduced complexity of bisulfite sequence, asymmetric cytosine to thymine alignments, and multiple CpG heterogeneous methylation.
Results
We developed an efficient bisulfite reads mapping algorithm BSMAP to address the above issues. BSMAP combines genome hashing and bitwise masking to achieve fast and accurate bisulfite mapping. Compared with existing bisulfite mapping approaches, BSMAP is faster, more sensitive and more flexible.
Conclusion
BSMAP is the first general-purpose bisulfite mapping software. It is able to map high-throughput bisulfite reads at whole genome level with feasible memory and CPU usage. It is freely available under GPL v3 license at .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-232
PMCID: PMC2724425  PMID: 19635165
16.  Recognition of a cytosine base lesion by a human damage-specific DNA binding protein. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1985;13(1):303-315.
Sodium bisulfite reacts with cytosine and 5-methylcytosine, forming the 5,6-dihydrosulfonate adducts which deaminate to the uracil and thymine adducts, respectively. At alkaline pH, the sulfonate groups are then released, generating uracil and thymine. In DNA, the resulting G:U and G:T base mismatches generated are potential sites of mutagenesis. Using a human damage-specific DNA binding protein as a probe, we have found protein-recognizable lesions in bisulfite-treated DNA and poly d(I-C), but not in treated poly d(A-T) or poly d(A-U). Although this suggests that the lesion recognized is cytosine-derived, there was no correlation between the number of uracils induced and the number of binding sites, suggesting that the protein-bound damage is not a uracil-containing mismatch. Modification of the treatment protocol to reduce elimination of the bisulfite from the base adducts increased the level of binding, suggesting that the protein recognizes a base-sulfonate adduct.
PMCID: PMC340992  PMID: 4039815
17.  Identification of differentially methylated regions using streptavidin bisulfite ligand methylation enrichment (SuBLiME), a new method to enrich for methylated DNA prior to deep bisulfite genomic sequencing 
Epigenetics  2013;8(1):113-127.
We have developed a method that enriches for methylated cytosines by capturing the fraction of bisulfite-treated DNA with unconverted cytosines. The method, called streptavidin bisulfite ligand methylation enrichment (SuBLiME), involves the specific labeling (using a biotin-labeled nucleotide ligand) of methylated cytosines in bisulfite-converted DNA. This step is then followed by affinity capture, using streptavidin-coupled magnetic beads. SuBLiME is highly adaptable and can be combined with deep sequencing library generation and/or genomic complexity-reduction. In this pilot study, we enriched methylated DNA from Csp6I-cut complexity-reduced genomes of colorectal cancer cell lines (HCT-116, HT-29 and SW-480) and normal blood leukocytes with the aim of discovering colorectal cancer biomarkers. Enriched libraries were sequenced with SOLiD-3 technology. In pairwise comparisons, we scored a total of 1,769 gene loci and 33 miRNA loci as differentially methylated between the cell lines and leukocytes. Of these, 516 loci were differently methylated in at least two promoter-proximal CpG sites over two discrete Csp6I fragments. Identified methylated gene loci were associated with anatomical development, differentiation and cell signaling. The data correlated with good agreement to a number of published colorectal cancer DNA methylation biomarkers and genomic data sets. SuBLiME is effective in the enrichment of methylated nucleic acid and in the detection of known and novel biomarkers.
doi:10.4161/epi.23330
PMCID: PMC3549874  PMID: 23257838
methylation; methylome; bisulfite; biotin; streptavidin; labeling; enrichment; sequencing
18.  A method for cloning and sequencing long palindromic DNA junctions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(19):e155.
DNA sequences containing long adjacent inverted repeats (palindromes) are inherently unstable and are associated with many types of chromosomal rearrangements. The instability associated with palindromic sequences also creates difficulties in their molecular analysis: long palindromes (>250 bp/arm) are highly unstable in Escherichia coli, and cannot be directly PCR amplified or sequenced due to their propensity to form intra-strand hairpins. Here, we show that DNA molecules containing long palindromes (>900 bp/arm) can be transformed and stably maintained in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells lacking a functional SAE2 gene. Treatment of the palindrome-containing DNA with sodium bisulfite at high temperature results in deamination of cytosine, converting it to uracil and thus reducing the propensity to form intra-strand hairpins. The bisulfite-treated DNA can then be PCR amplified, cloned and sequenced, allowing determination of the nucleotide sequence of the junctions. Our data demonstrates that long palindromes with either no spacer (perfect) or a 2 bp spacer can be stably maintained, recovered and sequenced from sae2Δ yeast cells. Since DNA sequences from mammalian cells can be gap repaired by their co-transformation into yeast cells with an appropriate vector, the methods described in this manuscript should provide some of the necessary tools to isolate and characterize palindromic junctions from mammalian cells.
doi:10.1093/nar/gnh143
PMCID: PMC528819  PMID: 15534362
19.  Tritium labelling of nucleic acids accompanied by conversion of cytosine to uracil. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1976;3(3):809-816.
A new method of incorporation of tritium into nucleic acids with an accompanying conversion of cytosine to uracil is proposed. The method is based on the reaction of nucleic acids with bisulfite in the presence of 3H2O. Under certain conditions poly(C) is quantitatively converted to a radioactive poly(U), whereas similar bisulfite treatment of poly(U) does not result in any tritium incorporation. Specificity of the reaction is confirmed by the results of analysis of modified tRNA and rRNA. Incubation of tRNA with bisulfite and 3H2O does not lead to cleavage of the polynucleotide chain. Similar treatment of the denatured DNA results in tritium incorporation into DNA which is accompanied by a conversion of cytosine to uracil. There is virtually no reaction between native DNA and bisulfite. Only certain cytosone residues in yeast tRNAVal/2a interact with bisulfate providing that reaction is carried out under sufficiently mild conditions.
PMCID: PMC342941  PMID: 1272798
20.  A mostly traditional approach improves alignment of bisulfite-converted DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(13):e100.
Cytosines in genomic DNA are sometimes methylated. This affects many biological processes and diseases. The standard way of measuring methylation is to use bisulfite, which converts unmethylated cytosines to thymines, then sequence the DNA and compare it to a reference genome sequence. We describe a method for the critical step of aligning the DNA reads to the correct genomic locations. Our method builds on classic alignment techniques, including likelihood-ratio scores and spaced seeds. In a realistic benchmark, our method has a better combination of sensitivity, specificity and speed than nine other high-throughput bisulfite aligners. This study enables more accurate and rational analysis of DNA methylation. It also illustrates how to adapt general-purpose alignment methods to a special case with distorted base patterns: this should be informative for other special cases such as ancient DNA and AT-rich genomes.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks275
PMCID: PMC3401460  PMID: 22457070
21.  Rapid quantification of DNA methylation through dNMP analysis following bisulfite-PCR 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(8):e61.
We report a novel method for rapid quantification of the degree of DNA methylation of a specific gene. Our method combined bisulfite-mediated PCR and quantification of deoxyribonucleoside monophosphate (dNMP) contents in the PCR product through capillary electrophoresis. A specific bisulfite-PCR product was enzymatically hydrolyzed to dNMP monomers which were quantitatively analyzed through subsequent capillary electrophoresis. PCR following bisulfite treatment converts unmethylated cytosines to thymines while leaving methyl-cytosines unchanged. Then the ratio of cytosine to thymine determined by capillary electrophoresis represents the ratio of methyl-cytosine to cytosine in genomic locus of interest. Pure oligonucleotides with known sequences were processed in parallel as standards for normalization of dNMP peaks in capillary electrophoresis. Sources of quantification uncertainty such as carryovers of dNTPs or primers and incomplete hydrolysis were examined and ruled out. When the method was applied to samples with known methylation levels (by bisulfite-mediated sequencing) as a validation, deviations were within ±5%. After bisulfite-PCR, the analytical procedure can be completed within 1.5 h.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl257
PMCID: PMC1458279  PMID: 16679448
22.  Amplification-free whole-genome bisulfite sequencing by post-bisulfite adaptor tagging 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(17):e136.
DNA methylation plays a key role in epigenetic regulation of eukaryotic genomes. Hence the genome-wide distribution of 5-methylcytosine, or the methylome, has been attracting intense attention. In recent years, whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) has enabled methylome analysis at single-base resolution. However, WGBS typically requires microgram quantities of DNA as well as global PCR amplification, thereby precluding its application to samples of limited amounts. This is presumably because bisulfite treatment of adaptor-tagged templates, which is inherent to current WGBS methods, leads to substantial DNA fragmentation. To circumvent the bisulfite-induced loss of intact sequencing templates, we conceived an alternative method termed Post-Bisulfite Adaptor Tagging (PBAT) wherein bisulfite treatment precedes adaptor tagging by two rounds of random primer extension. The PBAT method can generate a substantial number of unamplified reads from as little as subnanogram quantities of DNA. It requires only 100 ng of DNA for amplification-free WGBS of mammalian genomes. Thus, the PBAT method will enable various novel applications that would not otherwise be possible, thereby contributing to the rapidly growing field of epigenomics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks454
PMCID: PMC3458524  PMID: 22649061
23.  CpG island promoter region methylation patterns of the inactive-X-chromosome hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (Hprt) gene. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1994;14(12):7975-7983.
Inactive-X-chromosome genes in mammalian females have methylated CpG islands. We have questioned whether there are variable levels of cytosine methylation at different CpG sites within the island that might indicate the presence of primary sites of methylation which may be critical for the maintenance of gene repression and candidate sites for the initiation of inactivation. To address these questions, we have analyzed the methylation patterns of 32 CpG sites of the X-linked hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (Hprt) gene on the active and inactive X chromosomes of mouse tissues and cell lines, using genomic sequencing of bisulfite-treated genomic DNA. Cytosine is deaminated by bisulfite, but methylcytosine is not affected. Cell lines that were heterozygous for the Hprt deletion mutation (Hprtb-m3) and a functional Hprt allele were selected with 6-thioguanine. The resulting cell populations uniformly carry the intact Hprt allele on the inactive X chromosome. The methylation of these CpG sites was determined either by the direct sequence analysis of bisulfite-treated and amplified DNA or by the sequence analysis of clones derived from the amplified DNA. No CpG methylation was detected on the active Hprt genes from either males or the active X chromosome of females. On average, 22 CpGs were methylated in the other 50% of female DNA, and the level of methylation at individual sites varied from 42 to 100%. Analysis of the inactive Hprt gene in two cell lines showed that averages of 14 and 18 CpGs were methylated and that the frequency of methylation at 32 individual sites ranged from 3 to 100%. The highest frequency of methylation in cell lines coincided with the sequences flanking transcription initiation sites. These results suggest that methylation patterns are heterogeneous within a tissue and even in clonal cell populations and that specific subsets of CpG sites sustain high methylation frequencies which may be critical for the maintenance of X-chromosome inactivation. The bisulfite method identified which CpG sites were methylated on the inactive X chromosome, and it provided a quantitative estimate of the frequency of methylation of these sites in genomic DNA.
Images
PMCID: PMC359336  PMID: 7969137
24.  Increased Sensitivity in Whole-Genome Bisulfite Sequencing (Wgbs): A Novel “Post-bisulfite Conversion” Library Construction Method from Sub-nanogram DNA Inputs 
Genome-wide analysis of 5-methylcytosines is possible with whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS), where unmethylated cytosine residues are converted to uracil. However, a major challenge in WGBS is the degradation of DNA that occurs during bisulfite conversion under conditions required for complete conversion. Typically, ∼90% of input DNA is degraded and thus, is especially problematic with limited starting amounts of DNA. Additionally, regions that are rich in unmethylated cytosines are more sensitive to strand breaks. As a consequence, a majority of DNA fragments contained in di-tagged NGS DNA libraries treated with bisulfite “post-library construction” can be rendered inactive due to strand breaks in the DNA sequence flanked by the adapter sequences. These mono-tagged templates are then excluded during library enrichment resulting in incomplete coverage and bias when performing whole genome bisulfite sequencing.
Here, we describe a novel “post-bisulfite conversion” library construction method for preparing NGS libraries from genomic DNA prior to the addition of one or both adapters. This “post-bisulfite conversion” library construction method uses the resulting untagged or mono-tagged single-stranded DNA as template for the subsequent addition of adapter sequences required for NGS. Thus, single-stranded DNA fragments independent of size and position of strand breaks remain as viable templates for library construction, eliminating the loss of fragments and the selection bias associated with a “post-library construction” bisulfite conversion strategy. This novel “post-bisulfite conversion” library construction method exhibits high diversity, increased efficiency and sensitivity (500 picograms human genomic DNA input), and improved coverage required for WGBS.
PMCID: PMC3635258
25.  MethylViewer: computational analysis and editing for bisulfite sequencing and methyltransferase accessibility protocol for individual templates (MAPit) projects 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(1):e5.
Bisulfite sequencing is a widely-used technique for examining cytosine DNA methylation at nucleotide resolution along single DNA strands. Probing with cytosine DNA methyltransferases followed by bisulfite sequencing (MAPit) is an effective technique for mapping protein–DNA interactions. Here, MAPit methylation footprinting with M.CviPI, a GC methyltransferase we previously cloned and characterized, was used to probe hMLH1 chromatin in HCT116 and RKO colorectal cancer cells. Because M.CviPI-probed samples contain both CG and GC methylation, we developed a versatile, visually-intuitive program, called MethylViewer, for evaluating the bisulfite sequencing results. Uniquely, MethylViewer can simultaneously query cytosine methylation status in bisulfite-converted sequences at as many as four different user-defined motifs, e.g. CG, GC, etc., including motifs with degenerate bases. Data can also be exported for statistical analysis and as publication-quality images. Analysis of hMLH1 MAPit data with MethylViewer showed that endogenous CG methylation and accessible GC sites were both mapped on single molecules at high resolution. Disruption of positioned nucleosomes on single molecules of the PHO5 promoter was detected in budding yeast using M.CviPII, increasing the number of enzymes available for probing protein–DNA interactions. MethylViewer provides an integrated solution for primer design and rapid, accurate and detailed analysis of bisulfite sequencing or MAPit datasets from virtually any biological or biochemical system.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq716
PMCID: PMC3017589  PMID: 20959287

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