The application of next generation sequencing in DNA methylation analysis

Genes (Basel). 2010 Jun 4;1(1):85-101. doi: 10.3390/genes1010085.


DNA methylation is a major form of epigenetic modification and plays essential roles in physiology and disease processes. In the human genome, about 80% of cytosines in the 56 million CpG sites are methylated to 5-methylcytosines. The methylation pattern of DNA is highly variable among cells types and developmental stages and influenced by disease processes and genetic factors, which brings considerable theoretical and technological challenges for its comprehensive mapping. Recently various high-throughput approaches based on bisulfite conversion combined with next generation sequencing have been developed and applied for the genome wide analysis of DNA methylation. These methods provide single base pair resolution, quantitative DNA methylation data with genome wide coverage. We review these methods here and discuss some technical points of special interest like the sequence depth necessary to reach conclusions, the identification of clonal DNA amplification after bisulfite conversion and the detection of non-CpG methylation. Future application of these methods will greatly facilitate the profiling of the DNA methylation in the genomes of different species, individuals and cell types under healthy and disease states.