LuxGLM: A probabilistic covariate model for quantification of DNA methylation modifications with complex experimental designs

Tarmo Äijö*, Xiaojing Yue, Anjana Rao, Harri Lähdesmäki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Motivation: 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is a widely studied epigenetic modification of DNA. The ten-eleven translocation (TET) dioxygenases oxidize 5mC into oxidized methylcytosines (oxi-mCs): 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC). DNA methylation modifications have multiple functions. For example, 5mC is shown to be associated with diseases and oxi-mC species are reported to have a role in active DNA demethylation through 5mC oxidation and DNA repair, among others, but the detailed mechanisms are poorly understood. Bisulphite sequencing and its various derivatives can be used to gain information about all methylation modifications at single nucleotide resolution. Analysis of bisulphite based sequencing data is complicated due to the convoluted read-outs and experiment-specific variation in biochemistry. Moreover, statistical analysis is often complicated by various confounding effects. How to analyse 5mC and oxi-mC data sets with arbitrary and complex experimental designs is an open and important problem. Results: We propose the first method to quantify oxi-mC species with arbitrary covariate structures from bisulphite based sequencing data. Our probabilistic modeling framework combines a previously proposed hierarchical generative model for oxi-mC-seq data and a general linear model component to account for confounding effects. We show that our method provides accurate methylation level estimates and accurate detection of differential methylation when compared with existing methods. Analysis of novel and published data gave insights into to the demethylation of the forkhead box P3 (Foxp3) locus during the induced T regulatory cell differentiation. We also demonstrate how our covariate model accurately predicts methylation levels of the Foxp3 locus. Collectively, LuxGLM method improves the analysis of DNA methylation modifications, particularly for oxi-mC species. Availability and Implementation: An implementation of the proposed method is available under MIT license at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i511-i519
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Dive into the research topics of 'LuxGLM: A probabilistic covariate model for quantification of DNA methylation modifications with complex experimental designs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this