methGraph: A genome visualization tool for PCR-based methylation assays

 Abstract

Abnormalities in DNA methylation of CpG islands that play a role in gene regulation affect gene expression and hence play a role in disease, including cancer. Bisulfite-based DNA methylation analysis methods such as methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and bisulfite sequencing (BiSeq) are most commonly used to study gene-specific DNA methylation. Assessing specificity and visualizing the position of PCR primers in their genomic context is a laborious and tedious task, primarily due to the sequence changes induced during the bisulfite conversion. For this purpose, we developed methGraph, a web application for easy, fast and flexible visualization and accurate in silico quality evaluation of PCR-based methylation assays. The visualization process starts by submitting PCR primer sequences for specificity assessment and mapping on the genome using the BiSearch ePCR primer-search algorithm. The next step comprises the selection of relevant UCSC genome annotation tracks for display in the final graph. A custom track showing all individual CpG dinucleotides, representing their distribution in the CpG island is also provided. Finally, methGraph creates a BED file that is automatically uploaded to the UCSC genome browser, after which the resulting image files are extracted and made available for visualization and download. The generated high-quality figures can easily be customized and exported for use in publications or presentations. methGraph is available at http://mellfire.ugent.be/methgraph/.

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Pages
159 - 163
doi
10.4161/epi.5.2.11161
Type
Research Paper
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methGraph: A genome visualization tool for PCR-based methylation assays