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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Apr 15;28(8):E32.

MethyLight: a high-throughput assay to measure DNA methylation.

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Department of Surgery, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles 90033, USA.


Cytosine-5 DNA methylation occurs in the context of CpG dinucleotides in vertebrates. Aberrant methylation of CpG islands in human tumors has been shown to cause transcriptional silencing of tumor-suppressor genes. Most methods used to analyze cytosine-5 methylation patterns require cumbersome manual techniques that employ gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme digestion, radiolabeled dNTPs or hybridization probes. The development of high-throughput technology for the analysis of DNA methylation would significantly expand our ability to derive molecular information from clinical specimens. This study describes a high-throughput quantitative methylation assay that utilizes fluorescence-based real-time PCR (TaqMan) technology that requires no further manipulations after the PCR step. MethyLight is a highly sensitive assay, capable of detecting methylated alleles in the presence of a 10,000-fold excess of unmethylated alleles. The assay is also highly quantitative and can very accurately determine the relative prevalence of a particular pattern of DNA methylation. We show that MethyLight can distinguish between mono-allelic and bi-allelic methylation of the MLH1 mismatch repair gene in human colorectal tumor specimens. The development of this technique should considerably enhance our ability to rapidly and accurately generate epigenetic profiles of tumor samples.

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