Epigenome-wide association studies, which searches for blood-based DNA methylation signatures associated with environmental exposures and/or disease susceptibilities, is a promising approach to a better understanding of the molecular aetiology of common diseases. To carry out large-scale epigenome-wide association studies while avoiding false negative detection, an efficient strategy to determine target CpG sites for microarray-based or sequencing-based DNA methylation profiling is essentially needed. Here, we propose and validate a hypothesis that a strategy focusing on CpG sites with high DNA methylation level variability may attain an improved efficacy. Through whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of purified blood cells collected from > 100 apparently healthy subjects, we identified ~2.0 million inter-individually variable CpG sites as potential targets. The efficacy of our strategy was estimated to be 3.7-fold higher than that of the most frequently used strategy. Our catalogue of inter-individually variable CpG sites will accelerate the discovery of clinically relevant DNA methylation biomarkers in future epigenome-wide association studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology