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Cellular Oncology
Volume 26 (2004), Issue 5-6, Pages 291-299

Methylation-Specific PCR Unraveled

Sarah Derks,1 Marjolein H. F. M. Lentjes,1 Debby M. E. I. Hellebrekers,1 Adriaan P. de Bruïne,1 James G. Herman,2 and Manon van Engeland1

1Research Institute GROW, Department of Pathology, University Maastricht, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
2The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Methylation‐specific PCR (MSP) is a simple, quick and cost‐effective method to analyze the DNA methylation status of virtually any group of CpG sites within a CpG island. The technique comprises two parts: (1) sodium bisulfite conversion of unmethylated cytosine's to uracil under conditions whereby methylated cytosines remains unchanged and (2) detection of the bisulfite induced sequence differences by PCR using specific primer sets for both unmethylated and methylated DNA. This review discusses the critical parameters of MSP and presents an overview of the available MSP variants and the (clinical) applications.