Absolute quantification of DNA methylation using microfluidic chip-based digital PCR

Zhenhua Wu, Yanan Bai, Zule Cheng, Fangming Liu, Ping Wang, Dawei Yang, Gang Li, Qinghui Jin, Hongju Mao, Jianlong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Hypermethylation of CpG islands in the promoter region of many tumor suppressor genes downregulates their expression and in a result promotes tumorigenesis. Therefore, detection of DNA methylation status is a convenient diagnostic tool for cancer detection. Here, we reported a novel method for the integrative detection of methylation by the microfluidic chip-based digital PCR. This method relies on methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme HpaII, which cleaves the unmethylated DNA strands while keeping the methylated ones intact. After HpaII treatment, the DNA methylation level is determined quantitatively by the microfluidic chip-based digital PCR with the lower limit of detection equal to 0.52%. To validate the applicability of this method, promoter methylation of two tumor suppressor genes (PCDHGB6 and HOXA9) was tested in 10 samples of early stage lung adenocarcinoma and their adjacent non-tumorous tissues. The consistency was observed in the analysis of these samples using our method and a conventional bisulfite pyrosequencing. Combining high sensitivity and low cost, the microfluidic chip-based digital PCR method might provide a promising alternative for the detection of DNA methylation and early diagnosis of epigenetics-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA
  • Digital PCR
  • Methylation
  • Microfluidics


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