DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation of gene expression, guiding normal cellular development and maintaining tissue identities. Alterations in DNA methylation, or epigenetic changes because they do not alter the genetic code, affect the structure of DNA and are known to be associated with carcinogenesis due to transcription inactivation.
Methylation patterns in cancer
Patterns of methylation seen in cancer are very different to that of normal tissue and are usually associated with localised hypermethylation of CpG islands. This causes genetic instability and damage leading to tumour formation.
Methylation profiling can be a useful tool in understanding the underlying molecular basis of disease and can provide important insight into drug targets. Quantitative methylation measurement at the single-CpG-site level offers the highest resolution for understanding epigenetic changes.
Source BioScience offers a number of approaches for epigenetic studies on research and clinical samples, including MeDIP and bisulphite reduction sequencing on the Illumina HiSeq2000 and GAIIx platforms.