Wavelet Screening identifies regions highly enriched for differentially methylated loci for orofacial clefts
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNAR Genomics and Bioinformatics. 2021, 3 (2), lqab035. 10.1093/nargab/lqab035
DNA methylation is the most widely studied epigenetic mark in humans and plays an essential role in normal biological processes as well as in disease development. More focus has recently been placed on understanding functional aspects of methylation, prompting the development of methods to investigate the relationship between heterogeneity in methylation patterns and disease risk. However, most of these methods are limited in that they use simplified models that may rely on arbitrarily chosen parameters, they can only detect differentially methylated regions (DMRs) one at a time, or they are computationally intensive. To address these shortcomings, we present a wavelet-based method called ‘Wavelet Screening’ (WS) that can perform an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of thousands of individuals on a single CPU in only a matter of hours. By detecting multiple DMRs located near each other, WS identifies more complex patterns that can differentiate between different methylation profiles. We performed an extensive set of simulations to demonstrate the robustness and high power of WS, before applying it to a previously published EWAS dataset of orofacial clefts (OFCs). WS identified 82 associated regions containing several known genes and loci for OFCs, while other findings are novel and warrant replication in other OFCs cohorts.