Two cost-efficient genome-scale methodologies to assess DNA-methylation are MethylCap-seq and Illumina's Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChips (HM450). Objective information regarding the best-suited methodology for a specific research question is scant. Therefore, we performed a largescale evaluation on a set of 70 brain tissue samples, i.e. 65 glioblastoma and 5 non-tumoral tissues. As MethylCap-seq coverages were limited, we focused on the inherent capacity of the methodology to detect methylated loci rather than a quantitative analysis. MethylCap-seq and HM450 data were dichotomized and performances were compared using a gold standard free Bayesian modelling procedure. While conditional specificity was adequate for both approaches, conditional sensitivity was systematically higher for HM450. In addition, genome-wide characteristics were compared, revealing that HM450 probes identified substantially fewer regions compared to MethylCap-seq. Although results indicated that the latter method can detect more potentially relevant DNAmethylation, this did not translate into the discovery of more differentially methylated loci between tumours and controls compared to HM450. Our results therefore indicate that both methodologies are complementary, with a higher sensitivity for HM450 and a far larger genome-wide coverage for MethylCap-seq, but also that a more comprehensive character does not automatically imply more significant results in biomarker studies.
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