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A combined HM-PCR/SNuPE method for high sensitive detection of rare DNA methylation

Author(s): Tierling Sascha | Schuster Matthias | Tetzner Reimo | Walter Jörn

Journal: Epigenetics & Chromatin
ISSN 1756-8935

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 12;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background DNA methylation changes are widely used as early molecular markers in cancer detection. Sensitive detection and classification of rare methylation changes in DNA extracted from circulating body fluids or complex tissue samples is crucial for the understanding of tumor etiology, clinical diagnosis and treatment. In this paper, we describe a combined method to monitor the presence of methylated tumor DNA in an excess of unmethylated background DNA of non-tumorous cells. The method combines heavy methyl-PCR, which favors preferential amplification of methylated marker sequence from bisulfite-treated DNA with a methylation-specific single nucleotide primer extension monitored by ion-pair, reversed-phase, high-performance liquid chromatography separation. Results This combined method allows detection of 14 pg (that is, four to five genomic copies) of methylated chromosomal DNA in a 2000-fold excess (that is, 50 ng) of unmethylated chromosomal background, with an analytical sensitivity of > 90%. We outline a detailed protocol for the combined assay on two examples of known cancer markers (SEPT9 and TMEFF2) and discuss general aspects of assay design and data interpretation. Finally, we provide an application example for rapid testing on tumor methylation in plasma DNA derived from a small cohort of patients with colorectal cancer. Conclusion The method allows unambiguous detection of rare DNA methylation, for example in body fluid or DNA isolates from cells or tissues, with very high sensitivity and accuracy. The application combines standard technologies and can easily be adapted to any target region of interest. It does not require costly reagents and can be used for routine screening of many samples.

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