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DNA methylation estimation using methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme bisulfite sequencing (MREBS)


Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) and reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) are widely used for measuring DNA methylation levels on a genome-wide scale. Both methods have limitations: WGBS is expensive and prohibitive for most large-scale projects; RRBS only interrogates 6-12% of the CpGs in the human genome. Here, we introduce methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme bisulfite sequencing (MREBS) which has the reduced sequencing requirements of RRBS, but significantly expands the coverage of CpG sites in the genome. We built a multiple regression model that combines the two features of MREBS: the bisulfite conversion ratios of single cytosines (as in WGBS and RRBS) as well as the number of reads that cover each locus (as in MRE-seq). This combined approach allowed us to estimate differential methylation across 60% of the genome using read count data alone, and where counts were sufficiently high in both samples (about 1.5% of the genome), our estimates were significantly improved by the single CpG conversion information. We show that differential DNA methylation values based on MREBS data correlate well with those based on WGBS and RRBS. This newly developed technique combines the sequencing cost of RRBS and DNA methylation estimates on a portion of the genome similar to WGBS, making it ideal for large-scale projects of mammalian genomes.

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