Methods for discovering genomic loci exhibiting complex patterns of differential methylation
Cytosine methylation is widespread in most eukaryotic genomes and is known to play a substantial role in various regulatory pathways. Unmethylated cytosines may be converted to uracil through the addition of sodium bisulphite, allowing genome-wide quantification of cytosine methylation via high-throughput sequencing. The data thus acquired allows the discovery of methylation 'loci'; contiguous regions of methylation consistently methylated across biological replicates. The mapping of these loci
... pping of these loci allows for associations with other genomic factors to be identified, and for analyses of differential methylation to take place. The segmentSeq R package is extended to identify methylation loci from high-throughput sequencing data from multiple experimental conditions. A statistical model is then developed that accounts for biological replication and variable rates of non-conversion of cytosines in each sample to compute posterior likelihoods of methylation at each locus within an empirical Bayesian framework. The same model is used as a basis for analysis of differential methylation between multiple experimental conditions with the baySeq R package. We demonstrate this method through an analysis of data derived from Dicer-like mutants in Arabidopsis that reveals complex interactions between the different Dicer-like mutants and their methylation pathways. We also show in simulation studies that this approach can be significantly more powerful in the detection of differential methylation than existing methods.