Nanopore sequencing reveals methylation changes associated with obesity in circulating cell-free DNA from Göttingen Minipigs

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Profiling of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) by tissue-specific base modifications, such as 5-methylcytosines (5mC), may enable the monitoring of ongoing pathophysiological processes. Nanopore sequencing allows genome-wide 5mC detection in cfDNA without bisulphite conversion. The aims of this study were: i) to find differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of cfDNA associated with obesity in Göttingen minipigs using Nanopore sequencing, ii) to validate a subset of the DMRs using methylation-specific PCR (MSP-PCR), and iii) to compare the cfDNA DMRs with those from whole blood genomic DNA (gDNA). Serum cfDNA and gDNA were obtained from 10 lean and 7 obese Göttingen Minipigs both with experimentally induced myocardial infarction and sequenced using Oxford Nanopore MinION. A total of 1,236 cfDNA DMRs (FDR<0.01) were associated with obesity. In silico analysis showed enrichment of the adipocytokine signalling, glucagon signalling, and cellular glucose homoeostasis pathways. A strong cfDNA DMR was discovered in PPARGC1B, a gene linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. The DMR was validated using MSP-PCR and correlated significantly with body weight (P < 0.05). No DMRs intersected between cfDNA and gDNA, suggesting that cfDNA originates from body-wide shedding of DNA. In conclusion, nanopore sequencing detected differential methylation in minute quantities (0.1–1 ng/µl) of cfDNA. Future work should focus on translation into human and comparing 5mC from somatic tissues to pinpoint the exact location of pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2199374
Issue number1
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • Cell-free DNA, diagnostics, epigenetics, methylation, Nanopore sequencing, obesity

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