INTRODUCTION: Epigenetic alterations, including DNA methylation, play an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Several methods exist for evaluating DNA methylation, but bisulfite sequencing remains the gold standard by which base-pair resolution of CpG methylation is achieved. The challenge of the method is that the desired outcome (conversion of unmethylated cytosines) positively correlates with the undesired side effects (DNA degradation and inappropriate conversion), thus several commercial kits try to adjust a balance between the two. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of four bisulfite conversion kits [Premium Bisulfite kit (Diagenode), EpiTect Bisulfite kit (Qiagen), MethylEdge Bisulfite Conversion System (Promega) and BisulFlash DNA Modification kit (Epigentek)] regarding conversion efficiency, DNA degradation and conversion specificity.
METHODS: Performance was tested by combining fully methylated and fully unmethylated λ-DNA controls in a series of spikes by means of Sanger sequencing (0%, 25%, 50% and 100% methylated spikes) and Next-Generation Sequencing (0%, 3%, 5%, 7%, 10%, 25%, 50% and 100% methylated spikes). We also studied the methylation status of two of our previously published differentially methylated regions (DMRs) at base resolution by using spikes of chorionic villus sample in whole blood.
RESULTS: The kits studied showed different but comparable results regarding DNA degradation, conversion efficiency and conversion specificity. However, the best performance was observed with the MethylEdge Bisulfite Conversion System (Promega) followed by the Premium Bisulfite kit (Diagenode). The DMRs, EP6 and EP10, were confirmed to be hypermethylated in the CVS and hypomethylated in whole blood.
CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that the MethylEdge Bisulfite Conversion System (Promega) was shown to have the best performance among the kits. In addition, the methylation level of two of our DMRs, EP6 and EP10, was confirmed. Finally, we showed that bisulfite amplicon sequencing is a suitable approach for methylation analysis of targeted regions.