A novel MSP/DHPLC method for the investigation of the methylation status of imprinted genes enables the molecular detection of low cell mosaicisms

Hum Mutat. 2001 May;17(5):423-30. doi: 10.1002/humu.1118.


We describe a new procedure for the analysis of the methlyation status of imprinted genes based on methylation-specific PCR followed by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (MSP/DHPLC). The method offers a rapid and very reliable alternative to conventional methods used for such purposes such as Southern blots and methylation specific PCR (allele-specific MSP). The efficient resolution of the differentially methylated alleles is demonstrated for two human imprinted genes, namely the SNRPN gene and the LIT1 gene (KCNQ1OT1). Abnormal imprinting of the two genes is associated with the Angelman/Prader-Willi syndromes and the Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, respectively. The MSP/DHPLC method is based on PCR amplification of gene segments which show parent-of-origin specific methylation. Genomic DNA is subjected to an in vitro bisulfite treatment prior to PCR amplifications using primers specific for modified DNA. Both alleles are theoretically amplified with equal efficiency and are represented by identically sized PCR products; they differ, however, at a number of positions within the amplified DNA segment. The DHPLC analysis allows a very efficient resolution of the two populations of PCR products. The high sensitivity and quantitative properties of the MSP/DHPLC method are illustrated based on its ability to reveal a low cell mosaicism in an infant with a maternal uniparental disomy 15 (i.e., Prader-Willi syndrome patient). The minor cell line (approximately 8% in blood) was not detectable with conventional molecular analysis. While the detection of low cell mosaicisms of structurally abnormal chromosomes usually relies on cytogenetic studies, the MSP/DHPLC method described here not only offers an alternative at the molecular level, but may also reveal mosaicisms concerning structurally intact chromosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Angelman Syndrome / genetics
  • Autoantigens / genetics*
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome / genetics
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Child
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Female
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mosaicism / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Denaturation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • snRNP Core Proteins


  • Autoantigens
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • SNRPN protein, human
  • snRNP Core Proteins
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • lit-1 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • RefSeq/NM_003097