Latest techniques to study DNA methylation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Abstract Bisulfite sequencing is a powerful technique to detect 5-methylcytosine in DNA that has immensely contributed to our understanding of epigenetic regulation in plants and animals. Meanwhile, research on other base modifications, including 6-methyladenine and 4-methylcytosine that are frequent in prokaryotes, has been impeded by the lack of a comparable technique. Bisulfite sequencing also suffers from a number of drawbacks that are difficult to surmount, among which DNA degradation, lack of specificity, or short reads with low sequence diversity. In this review, we explore the recent refinements to bisulfite sequencing protocols that enable targeting genomic regions of interest, detecting derivatives of 5-methylcytosine, and mapping single-cell methylomes. We then present the unique advantage of long-read sequencing in detecting base modifications in native DNA and highlight the respective strengths and weaknesses of PacBio and Nanopore sequencing for this application. Although analysing epigenetic data from long-read platforms remains challenging, the ability to detect various modified bases from a universal sample preparation, in addition to the mapping and phasing advantages of the longer read lengths, provide long-read sequencing with a decisive edge over short-read bisulfite sequencing for an expanding number of applications across kingdoms.

publication date

  • 2019