Large-scale determination of the methylation status of retrotransposons in different tissues using a methylation tags approach

Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Feb 18;32(3):e31. doi: 10.1093/nar/gnh035.


A technique for simultaneous determination of the methylation status of numerous loci containing retroelements (REs) is reported. It is based on the observation that methylated and unmethylated areas in the genome are usually extended, and therefore the methylation of particular methyl-sensitive restriction endonuclease recognition sites might reflect the methylation status of DNA regions around them. The method includes dot-blot hybridization of repeat flanking sequences arrayed on a solid support with specifically amplified flanking regions of presumably unmethylated repeats. A multitude of flanking regions of REs adjacent to unmethylated restriction sites are amplified simultaneously, providing a complex hybridization probe. The technique thus allows the determination of the methylation status of restriction sites, which serve as tags of the methylation status of the surrounding regions. The validity of the technique was confirmed by various means, including bisulfite sequencing. The technique was successfully applied to the identification of methylation patterns of the regions surrounding 38 human-specific HERV-K(HML-2) long terminal repeats in cerebellum- and lymph node-derived genomic DNAs. The described technique can be readily adapted to the use of DNA microarray technology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Genetic Techniques / standards
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retroelements / genetics*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • Retroelements