Assessing DNA methylation levels in animals: choosing the right tool for the job.

Animal genetics

PubMedID: 24990588

Couldrey C, Cave V. Assessing DNA methylation levels in animals: choosing the right tool for the job. Anim Genet. 2014;.
Selection of agricultural animals for improved performance based on genetics has seen significant progress made over the past few decades. Further improvements are likely by combining genetic selection with epigenetic selection or manipulation. However, before this can be undertaken, an understanding of epigenetic mechanisms is required, and this can be obtained only by precise and accurate analysis of epigenetic patterns. Even when one only considers a single epigenetic modification such as DNA methylation, the last 10 years have seen a wide array of technologies developed. For scientists whose primary training is in a field other than epigenetics, the choices can be confusing, and it can be challenging to determine which technology is best for the task at hand. There are many factors to take into consideration before beginning analysis of DNA methylation in animals. It is crucial that the most appropriate tools are selected to ensure that the best possible results are achieved. This review provides an overview of the most common methods of analysing DNA methylation in animals, when they are appropriate, what resolution of information they can provide and what their limitations are.