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Accurate CpG and non-CpG cytosine methylation analysis by high-throughput locus-specific pyrosequencing in plants

How-Kit, Alexandre, Daunay, Antoine, Mazaleyrat, Nicolas, Busato, Florence, Daviaud, Christian, Teyssier, Emeline, Deleuze, Jean-François, Gallusci, Philippe, Tost, Jörg
Plant molecular biology 2015 v.88 no.4-5 pp. 471-485
DNA, DNA methylation, computer software, cytosine, fruiting, genes, mammals, polymerase chain reaction, promoter regions, ripening, sequence analysis, sodium bisulfite, tomatoes, transcription factors
Pyrosequencing permits accurate quantification of DNA methylation of specific regions where the proportions of the C/T polymorphism induced by sodium bisulfite treatment of DNA reflects the DNA methylation level. The commercially available high-throughput locus-specific pyrosequencing instruments allow for the simultaneous analysis of 96 samples, but restrict the DNA methylation analysis to CpG dinucleotide sites, which can be limiting in many biological systems. In contrast to mammals where DNA methylation occurs nearly exclusively on CpG dinucleotides, plants genomes harbor DNA methylation also in other sequence contexts including CHG and CHH motives, which cannot be evaluated by these pyrosequencing instruments due to software limitations. Here, we present a complete pipeline for accurate CpG and non-CpG cytosine methylation analysis at single base-resolution using high-throughput locus-specific pyrosequencing. The devised approach includes the design and validation of PCR amplification on bisulfite-treated DNA and pyrosequencing assays as well as the quantification of the methylation level at every cytosine from the raw peak intensities of the Pyrograms by two newly developed Visual Basic Applications. Our method presents accurate and reproducible results as exemplified by the cytosine methylation analysis of the promoter regions of two Tomato genes (NOR and CNR) encoding transcription regulators of fruit ripening during different stages of fruit development. Our results confirmed a significant and temporally coordinated loss of DNA methylation on specific cytosines during the early stages of fruit development in both promoters as previously shown by WGBS. The manuscript describes thus the first high-throughput locus-specific DNA methylation analysis in plants using pyrosequencing.