An information-theoretic approach to the modeling and analysis of whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data

BMC Bioinformatics
Garrett JenkinsonJohn Goutsias


DNA methylation is a stable form of epigenetic memory used by cells to control gene expression. Whole genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) has emerged as a gold-standard experimental technique for studying DNA methylation by producing high resolution genome-wide methylation profiles. Statistical modeling and analysis is employed to computationally extract and quantify information from these profiles in an effort to identify regions of the genome that demonstrate crucial or aberrant epigenetic behavior. However, the performance of most currently available methods for methylation analysis is hampered by their inability to directly account for statistical dependencies between neighboring methylation sites, thus ignoring significant information available in WGBS reads. We present a powerful information-theoretic approach for genome-wide modeling and analysis of WGBS data based on the 1D Ising model of statistical physics. This approach takes into account correlations in methylation by utilizing a joint probability model that encapsulates all information available in WGBS methylation reads and produces accurate results even when applied on single WGBS samples with low coverage. Using the Shannon entropy, our approach provides a rigoro...Continue Reading


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