Systematic assessment of reduced representation bisulfite sequencing to human blood samples: A promising method for large-sample-scale epigenomic studies

J Biotechnol. 2012 Jan;157(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2011.06.034. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


Complementary to the time- and cost-intensive direct bisulfite sequencing, we applied reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) to the human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from YH, the Asian individual whose genome and epigenome has been deciphered in the YH project and systematically assessed the genomic coverage, coverage depth and reproducibility of this technology as well as the concordance of DNA methylation levels measured by RRBS and direct bisulfite sequencing for the detected CpG sites. Our result suggests that RRBS can cover more than half of CpG islands and promoter regions with a good coverage depth and the proportion of the CpG sites covered by the biological replicates reaches 80-90%, indicating good reproducibility. Given a smaller data quantity, RRBS enjoys much better coverage depth than direct bisulfite sequencing and the concordance of DNA methylation levels between the two methods is high. It can be concluded that RRBS is a time and cost-effective sequencing method for unbiased DNA methylation profiling of CpG islands and promoter regions in a genome-wide scale and it is the method of choice to assay certain genomic regions for multiple samples in a rapid way.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA / blood*
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Sulfites / chemistry


  • Sulfites
  • DNA
  • hydrogen sulfite