Targeted bisulfite sequencing for biomarker discovery

Methods. 2021 Mar:187:13-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2020.07.006. Epub 2020 Aug 2.


Cytosine methylation is one of the best studied epigenetic modifications. In mammals, DNA methylation patterns vary among cells and is mainly found in the CpG context. DNA methylation is involved in important processes during development and differentiation and its dysregulation can lead to or is associated with diseases, such as cancer, loss-of-imprinting syndromes and neurological disorders. It has been also shown that DNA methylation at the cellular, tissue and organism level varies with age. To overcome the costs of Whole-Genome Bisulfite Sequencing, the gold standard method to detect 5-methylcytosines at a single base resolution, DNA methylation arrays have been developed and extensively used. This method allows one to assess the status of a fraction of the CpG sites present in the genome of an organism. In order to combine the relatively low cost of Methylation Arrays and digital signals of bisulfite sequencing, we developed a Targeted Bisulfite Sequencing method that can be applied to biomarker discovery for virtually any phenotype. Here we describe a comprehensive step-by-step protocol to build a DNA methylation-based epigenetic clock.

Keywords: Biomarker discovery; DNA methylation; Epigenetic clock; Next-generation sequencing; Target bisulfite-seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine / analysis
  • 5-Methylcytosine / chemistry
  • 5-Methylcytosine / metabolism
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / genetics
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Sulfites / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Sulfites
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • hydrogen sulfite