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Global Methylation Analysis
Global methylation analysis is quantifying and mapping the addition of methyl groups to entire genomes. The addition of methyl groups is involved in regulating gene expression and is an epigenetic change, meaning it is a DNA modification that does not affect gene sequence but can be passed on through generations. Methylation analysis technologies are based on: 1) the ability of restriction enzymes to cleave sequences based on methylation state, 2) affinity enrichment through immunoprecipitation of methylated DNA, or 3) the use of bisulfite to convert unmethylated cytosines to uracils. Most global methylation analyses focus on affinity enrichment or bisulfite treatment. Affinity methods are commonly chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by a microarray (ChIP-chip), sequencing (ChIP-seq), or mass spectrometry. Bisulfite treatment is usually followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify commonly methylated regions (CpG sites) followed by sequencing of the amplified fragments or whole genome sequencing. Computational predictions are used as well. Considerations for global methylation analysis include the desired resolution, accuracy and reproducibility, and sensitivity. Global methylation analysis is important for the study of epigenetics, cell differentiation, gene regulation, and disease. DNA methylation has been implicated in several diseases including cancer, heart disease, MS, and schizophrenia. (Credit: Brooke Anderson-White)
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