Efficient and Accurate Determination of Genome-Wide DNA Methylation Patterns in Arabidopsis with Enzymatic Methyl Sequencing
Background: 5' methylation of cytosines in DNA molecules is an important epigenetic mark in eukaryotes. Bisulfite sequencing is the gold standard of DNA methylation detection, and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) has been widely used to detect methylation at single-nucleotide resolution on a genome-wide scale. However, sodium bisulfite is known to severely degrade DNA, which, in combination with biases introduced during PCR amplification, leads to unbalanced base representation in the
... esentation in the final sequencing libraries. Enzymatic conversion of unmethylated cytosines to uracils can achieve the same end product for sequencing as does bisulfite treatment and does not affect the integrity of the DNA; enzymatic methylation sequencing may thus provide advantages over bisulfite sequencing.Results: Using an enzymatic methyl-seq (EM-seq) technique to selectively deaminate unmethylated cytosines to uracils, we generated and sequenced libraries based on different amounts of Arabidopsis input DNA and different numbers of PCR cycles, and compared these data to results from traditional whole genome bisulfite sequencing. We found that EM-seq libraries were more consistent between replicates and had higher mapping and lower duplication rates, lower background noise, higher average coverage, and higher coverage of total cytosines. Differential methylation region (DMR) analysis showed that WGBS tended to over-estimate methylation levels especially in CHG and CHH contexts, whereas EM-seq detected higher CG methylation levels in certain highly methylated areas. These phenomena can be mostly explained by a correlation of WGBS methylation estimation with GC content and methylated cytosine density. We used EM-seq to compare methylation between leaves and flowers, and found that CHG methylation level is greatly elevated in flowers, especially in pericentromeric regions. Conclusion: We suggest that EM-seq is a more accurate and reliable approach than WGBS to detect methylation. Compared to WGBS, the results of EM-seq are less affected by differences in library preparation conditions or by the skewed base composition in the converted DNA. It may therefore be more desirable to use EM-seq in methylation studies.