Epigenetic modifications affect a broad range of biological processes, including gene expression, host-pathogen interactions, environmental response, DNA damage, and DNA repair. Epigenetics also play a significant role in the inheritance of traits from one generation to the next. While more than 20 types of epigenetic and DNA-damage modifications have been identified, most scientists have only been able to study one type, cytosine methylation, using indirect detection methods. The ability to directly detect these changes is critical for understanding the impact of DNA modification on a wide variety of natural processes and disease responses.
Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing directly detects epigenetic modifications by measuring kinetic variation during base incorporation. By capturing these modifications simultaneously with sequence data, this method eliminates the need for special sample preparation and additional sequencing.