Pyrosequencing pp 221-239 | Cite as

Limiting Dilution Bisulfite Pyrosequencing®: A Method for Methylation Analysis of Individual DNA Molecules in a Single or a Few Cells

  • Nady El Hajj
  • Juliane Kuhtz
  • Thomas Haaf
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1315)


Bisulfite-based methods for DNA methylation analysis of small amounts of DNA from a limited number of cells are technologically challenging. Degradation of genomic DNA by bisulfite treatment, contamination with foreign DNA, and biases in the amplification of individual DNA molecules can generate results, which are not representative of the starting sample. Limiting dilution (LD) bisulfite Pyrosequencing® (BSP) is a relatively simple technique to circumvent these problems. The bisulfite-treated DNA of a single or a few cells is diluted to an extent, that only a single DNA target molecule is present in the reaction. Then each individual DNA molecule in the starting sample is separately amplified and analyzed by Pyrosequencing. This allows the detection of rare alleles that are easily masked when pools of DNA target molecules are analyzed. Amplicons containing a heterozygous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) allow one to delineate the parental origin of the recovered molecules in addition to their methylation status. The number of cells (DNA target molecules) in the starting sample determines the dilution level and the number of reactions that have to be performed. LD-BSP allows methylation analysis of small cell pools (i.e., 5–10 microdissected cells) and even individual cells. The primers and PCR conditions described here have been successfully employed to analyze the methylation status of up to eight target genes in individual 2–16 cell embryos, germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes, and haploid sperms.

Key words

Allele-specific methylation Bisulfite conversion DNA methylation Imprinted gene Limiting dilution Single cell analysis Pyrosequencing® 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Human GeneticsJulius-Maximilians University WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Human GeneticsJulius-Maximilians University WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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