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Comprehensive evaluation of genome-wide 5-hydroxymethylcytosine profiling approaches in human DNA


BACKGROUND: The discovery that 5-methylcytosine (5mC) can be oxidized to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) by the ten-eleven translocation (TET) proteins has prompted wide interest in the potential role of 5hmC in reshaping the mammalian DNA methylation landscape. The gold-standard bisulphite conversion technologies to study DNA methylation do not distinguish between 5mC and 5hmC. However, new approaches to mapping 5hmC genome-wide have advanced rapidly, although it is unclear how the different methods compare in accurately calling 5hmC. In this study, we provide a comparative analysis on brain DNA using three 5hmC genome-wide approaches, namely whole-genome bisulphite/oxidative bisulphite sequencing (WG Bis/OxBis-seq), Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays coupled with oxidative bisulphite (HM450K Bis/OxBis) and antibody-based immunoprecipitation and sequencing of hydroxymethylated DNA (hMeDIP-seq). We also perform loci-specific TET-assisted bisulphite sequencing (TAB-seq) for validation of candidate regions. RESULTS: We show that whole-genome single-base resolution approaches are advantaged in providing precise 5hmC values but require high sequencing depth to accurately measure 5hmC, as this modification is commonly in low abundance in mammalian cells. HM450K arrays coupled with oxidative bisulphite provide a cost-effective representation of 5hmC distribution, at CpG sites with 5hmC levels >~10%. However, 5hmC analysis is restricted to the genomic location of the probes, which is an important consideration as 5hmC modification is commonly enriched at enhancer elements. Finally, we show that the widely used hMeDIP-seq method provides an efficient genome-wide profile of 5hmC and shows high correlation with WG Bis/OxBis-seq 5hmC distribution in brain DNA. However, in cell line DNA with low levels of 5hmC, hMeDIP-seq-enriched regions are not detected by WG Bis/OxBis or HM450K, either suggesting misinterpretation of 5hmC calls by hMeDIP or lack of sensitivity of the latter methods. CONCLUSIONS: We highlight both the advantages and caveats of three commonly used genome-wide 5hmC profiling technologies and show that interpretation of 5hmC data can be significantly influenced by the sensitivity of methods used, especially as the levels of 5hmC are low and vary in different cell types and different genomic locations.

Type Journal
ISBN 1756-8935 (Electronic) 1756-8935 (Linking)
Authors Skvortsova, K.; Zotenko, E.; Luu, P. L.; Gould, C. M.; Nair, S. S.; Clark, S. J.; Stirzaker, C.
Responsible Garvan Author A/Prof Clare Stirzaker
Publisher Name Epigenetics & Chromatin
Published Date 2017-04-30
Published Volume 10
Published Pages 16
Status Always Electronic
DOI 10.1186/s13072-017-0123-7
URL link to publisher's version