Extract Methylation and Mutation Information

Make BED files

After generating the VCF file with both genetic and methylation information, beta values and coverage can be extracted to study the methylation levels at any sequenced CpGs. The following shows how to extract this information from the VCF file:

$ biscuit vcf2bed -t cg my_pileup.vcf.gz > my_pileup.bed

The -t flag can be used to retrieve mutation and other information, including

  • snp for SNP information
  • c for all cytosines
  • hcg for HCG (from NOMe-seq)
  • gch for GCH (from NOMe-seq)

The columns for -t snp are:

  1. Chromosome
  2. Start position (0-based)
  3. End position
  4. Reference base
  5. Alternate base
  6. Genotype (GT tag)
  7. Base support (SP tag)
  8. Coverage (AC tag)
  9. Allele frequency (AF1 tag)

Columns 6-9 are repeated for each sample found in the VCF file.

The columns for the other -t options (i.e., all methylation related options) are:

  1. Chromosome
  2. Start position (0-based)
  3. End position
  4. Methylation fraction
  5. Coverage

Columns 4 and 5 are repeated for each sample in the VCF file. If the -e option is included, then four columns are inserted between columns 3 and 4 listed above:

  • Reference base
  • Cytosine group (CG, CHG, CHH)
  • 2-base context (CA, CC, CG, CT)
  • 5-base context

Information about the sequence context for each row can be included by adding the -e flag to the command, while filtering out low coverage rows can be done using the -k flag.

For more help on available flags, run biscuit vcf2bed in the terminal or visit the vcf2bed help page.

Merge Neighboring C and G in CpG Context

At times, it might be desirable to merge the methylation status across the C and G in a CpG dinucleotide context. BISCUIT provides an easy-to-use subcommand, mergecg, to do this:

$ biscuit mergecg /path/to/my_reference.fa my_pileup.bed

For more help on available flags, run biscuit mergecg in the terminal or visit the mergecg help page.

Towards the Bismark COV format

Starting in version 1.3.0, BISCUIT can output a format that can be easily worked into the Bismark COV file format for easy use in downstream tools that expect such a file. To produce this file, run

biscuit vcf2bed -c my_pileup.vcf.gz > my_beta_m_u.bed

which will produce a BED-compliant file with these columns:

  1. Chromosome
  2. Start position (0-based)
  3. End position
  4. Methylation percentage
  5. M (number of methylated reads covering locus)
  6. U (number of unmethylated reads covering locus)

The Bismark COV file format is not BED-compliant, so to create a “true” COV file, you can use AWK in conjunction with vcf2bed:

# Pipe straight from vcf2bed
biscuit vcf2bed -c my_pileup.vcf.gz | \
awk -v OFS='\t' '{ print $1, $2+1, $3, $4, $5, $6 }' > my_beta_m_u.cov

# Create from already processed file
biscuit vcf2bed -c my_pileup.vcf.gz > my_beta_m_u.bed
awk -v OFS='\t' '{ print $1, $2+1, $3, $4, $5, $6 }' my_beta_m_u.bed > my_beta_m_u.cov

This file will keep methylation across the strands separate, as is normally done in biscuit vcf2bed. To merge methylation across strands, run:

biscuit vcf2bed my_pileup.vcf.gz | \
biscuit mergecg -c /path/to/my_reference.fa - | \
awk -v OFS='\t' '{ print $1, $2+1, $3-1, $4, $5, $6 }' > my_merged_beta_m_u.cov

Note, the -c flag is only included in the biscuit mergecg call. If you would prefer a BED-compliant file, remove the AWK command.