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Focused, high accuracy 5-methylcytosine quantitation with base resolution by benchtop next-generation sequencing

Dustin R Masser1, Arthur S Berg2 and Willard M Freeman13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, R130, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

2 Department of Public Health Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

3 Genome Sciences Facility, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

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Epigenetics & Chromatin 2013, 6:33  doi:10.1186/1756-8935-6-33

Published: 11 October 2013



The growing interest in the role of epigenetic modifications in human health and disease has led to the development of next-generation sequencing methods for whole genome analysis of DNA methylation patterns. However, many projects require targeted methylation analysis of specific genes or genomic regions. We have developed an approach, termed BiSulfite Amplicon Sequencing (BSAS), for hypothesis driven and focused absolute DNA methylation analysis. This approach is applicable both to targeted DNA methylation studies as well as to confirmation of genome-wide studies.


BSAS uses PCR enrichment of targeted regions from bisulfite-converted DNA and transposome-mediated library construction for rapid generation of sequencing libraries from low (1 ng) sample input. Libraries are sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq benchtop sequencer. Generating high levels of sequencing depth (>1,000 ×) provides for quantitatively precise and accurate assessment of DNA methylation levels with base specificity. Dual indexing of sequencing libraries allows for simultaneous analysis of up to 96 samples. We demonstrate the superior quantitative accuracy of this approach as compared to existing Sanger sequencing methods.


BSAS can be applied to any genomic region from any DNA source, including tissue and cell culture. Thus, BSAS provides a new validation approach for rapid and highly quantitative absolute CpG methylation analysis of any targeted genomic regions in a high throughput manner.

5-methylcytosine; Bisulfite sequencing; Next-generation sequencing; MiSeq