This week in techniques



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Assays & screens

Single-molecule analysis of epigenetic markers

Single-molecule analysis of epigenetic markers could help identify epigenome-based cancer biomarkers and monitor the effects of epigenome-modifying drugs. Existing approaches, including chromatin immunoprecipitation and bisulfite sequencing, only allow the direct identification of one marker at a time and a second one by association but not by direct observation. The single-molecule approach uses fluorescently labeled antibodies to target a specific epigenetic mark on intact chromatin and a microfluidic device to separate and detect the fluorescently labeled chromatin complexes. The technique was used to detect two epigenetic markers simultaneously and monitor their methylation levels following treatment with a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor. Next steps could include further refining the technique to enable simultaneous identification of three or more epigenetic markers.

SciBX 6(19); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.473
Published online May 16, 2013

Patent and licensing status undisclosed

Murphy, P.J. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA; published online
April 22, 2013;
Contact: Paul D. Soloway,
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Contact: Harold G. Craighead, same affiliation as above