Information recovery from low coverage whole-genome bisulfite sequencing

Emanuele Libertini, Simon C. Heath, Rifat A. Hamoudi, Marta Gut, Michael J. Ziller, Agata Czyz, Victor Ruotti, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg, Mattia Frontini, Willem H. Ouwehand, Alexander Meissner, Ivo G. Gut, Stephan Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The cost of whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) remains a bottleneck for many studies and it is therefore imperative to extract as much information as possible from a given dataset. This is particularly important because even at the recommend 30X coverage for reference methylomes, up to 50% of high-resolution features such as differentially methylated positions (DMPs) cannot be called with current methods as determined by saturation analysis. To address this limitation, we have developed a tool that dynamically segments WGBS methylomes into blocks of comethylation (COMETs) from which lost information can be recovered in the form of differentially methylated COMETs (DMCs). Using this tool, we demonstrate recovery of â1/430% of the lost DMP information content as DMCs even at very low (5X) coverage. This constitutes twice the amount that can be recovered using an existing method based on differentially methylated regions (DMRs). In addition, we explored the relationship between COMETs and haplotypes in lymphoblastoid cell lines of African and European origin. Using best fit analysis, we show COMETs to be correlated in a population-specific manner, suggesting that this type of dynamic segmentation may be useful for integrated (epi)genome-wide association studies in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11306
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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