A new chemical technique developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge will significantly improve the ability to perform epigenetics research, and thus comprehend how cells develop and function.
The researchers have developed oxidative bisulphate sequencing (or oxBS-seq) in order to help them sequence 5hmC at single base resolution. 5hmC is one of the most studied epigenetics marks, and is the addition of a methyl group to DNA which turns most genes off.
With sequencing becoming an increasingly important part of science and medicine, the researchers tested their method to sequence both 5hmC and 5mC in embryonic stem cell genomic DNA.
They recently announced that they successfully found a way to sequencing this important new base modification, professor Shankar Balasubramanian from Cambridge’s Chemistry department said.
“There was a real need in the field for a technique that would map both 5hmC and 5mC in the genome quantitatively and at high resolution,” said Dr Miguel Branco from the Babraham Institute added. “We applied this new technology to embryonic stem cells and immediately recognised its power in furthering our understanding of the biological functions of these DNA modifications.”