A protocol for RNA methylation differential analysis with MeRIP-Seq data

Despite the prevalent studies of DNA/Chromatin related epigenetics, such as, histone modifications and DNA methylation, RNA epigenetics has not drawn deserved attention until a new affinity-based sequencing approach MeRIP-Seq was developed and applied to survey the global mRNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A) in mammalian cells. As a marriage of ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq, MeRIP-Seq has the potential to study the transcriptome-wide distribution of various post-transcriptional RNA modifications.

Researchers at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University have previously developed an R/Bioconductor package ‘exomePeak’ for detecting RNA methylation sites under a specific experimental condition or the identifying the differential RNA methylation sites in a case control study from MeRIP-Seq data. Compared with other relatively well studied data types such as ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq, the study of MeRIP-Seq data is still at very early stage, and existing protocols are not optimized for dealing with the intrinsic characteristic of MeRIP-Seq data. The researchers provide here a detailed and easy-to-use protocol of using exomePeak R/Bioconductor package along with other software programs for analysis of MeRIP-Seq data, which covers raw reads alignment, RNA methylation site detection, motif discovery, differential RNA methylation analysis, and functional analysis. Particularly, the rationales behind each processing step as well as the specific method used, the best practice, and possible alternative strategies are briefly discussed.


Availability – The exomePeak R/Bioconductor package is freely available from Bioconductor: http://www.bioconductor.org/packages/release/bioc/html/exomePeak.html

Meng J, Lu Z, Liu H, Zhang L, Zhang S, Chen Y, Rao MK, Huang Y. (2014) A protocol for RNA methylation differential analysis with MeRIP-Seq data and exomePeak R/Bioconductor package. Methods [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]