Plant-RRBS, a bisulfite and next-generation sequencing-based methylome profiling method enriching for coverage of cytosine positions
BMC Plant Biology
Cytosine methylation in plant genomes is important for the regulation of gene transcription and transposon activity. Genome-wide methylomes are studied upon mutation of the DNA methyltransferases, adaptation to environmental stresses or during development. However, from basic biology to breeding programs, there is a need to monitor multiple samples to determine transgenerational methylation inheritance or differential cytosine methylation. Methylome data obtained by sodium hydrogen sulfite
... lfite)-conversion and next-generation sequencing (NGS) provide genome-wide information on cytosine methylation. However, a profiling method that detects cytosine methylation state dispersed over the genome would allow high-throughput analysis of multiple plant samples with distinct epigenetic signatures. We use specific restriction endonucleases to enrich for cytosine coverage in a bisulfite and NGS-based profiling method, which was compared to whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of the same plant material. Methods: We established an effective methylome profiling method in plants, termed plant-reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (plant-RRBS), using optimized double restriction endonuclease digestion, fragment end repair, adapter ligation, followed by bisulfite conversion, PCR amplification and NGS. We report a performant laboratory protocol and a straightforward bioinformatics data analysis pipeline for plant-RRBS, applicable for any reference-sequenced plant species. Results: As a proof of concept, methylome profiling was performed using an Oryza sativa ssp. indica pure breeding line and a derived epigenetically altered line (epiline). Plant-RRBS detects methylation levels at tens of millions of cytosine positions deduced from bisulfite conversion in multiple samples. To evaluate the method, the coverage of cytosine positions, the intra-line similarity and the differential cytosine methylation levels between the pure breeding line and the epiline were determined. Plant-RRBS reproducibly covers commonly up to one fourth of the cytosine positions in the rice genome when using MspI-DpnII within a group of five biological replicates of a line. The method predominantly detects cytosine methylation in putative promoter regions and not-annotated regions in rice. Conclusions: Plant-RRBS offers high-throughput and broad, genome-dispersed methylation detection by effective read number generation obtained from reproducibly covered genome fractions using optimized endonuclease combinations, facilitating comparative analyses of multi-sample studies for cytosine methylation and transgenerational stability in experimental material and plant breeding populations.