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2023-07-11| R&D

Revolutionary Sequencing Technique for Cancer Signature Detection

by GeneOnline
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Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania developed a new sequencing technique called Direct Methylation Sequencing (DM-Seq). This pioneering technique has the capability to directly identify modified cytosines, whose abnormal patterns are considered cancer signatures.   

Related Article: Moderna’s Personalized Cancer Therapy: The New Transformative Approach to Oncology 

Direct Methylation Sequencing’s Potential in Epigenetic Sequencing  

5-methylcytosine (5mC) is considered the most important epigenetic marker in mammalian genomes. Epigenetics studies the reversible changes to your genome caused by your environment and behavior. 5mC modifications regulate transcription by turning genes off, which means that an excessive amount of 5mCs or a lack of them leads to unusual gene expression. 

Their study, published earlier this month in Nature Chemical Biology, introduces a new sequencing technique, Direct Methylation Sequencing Technique (DM-Seq). DM-Seq uses engineered DNA-modifying enzymes to map 5-methylcytosine modifications; the two enzymes utilized are a DNA methyltransferase and a DNA transferase. The team also showed that DM-Seq is able to outperform bisulfite sequencing (BS-Seq), a well established method used to detect cytosine methylation. 

Unlike previously utilized methods, DM-Seq requires only a small amount of DNA as a sample, which is one of the main limitations of current techniques. Another important difference is that the DNA isn’t damaged, as is the case with BS-Seq. But most importantly, it is capable of differentiating between two cytosine modifications that are commonly mistaken: 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. This new technique has the potential to be used for the study of cell types that are difficult to characterize and to advance the use of epigenetic sequencing in cancer prognosis.

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