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DNA methylation-based sex classifier to predict sex and identify sex chromosome aneuploidy

By Yucheng Wang, Eilis Hannon, Olivia A Grant, Tyler Gorrie-Stone, Meena Kumari, Jonathan Mill, Xiaojun Zhai, Klaus D McDonald-Maier, Leonard C Schalkwyk

Posted 19 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.19.345090

Sex is an important covariate of epigenome-wide association studies due to its strong influence on DNA methylation patterns across numerous genomic positions. Nevertheless, many samples on the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) frequently lack a sex annotation or are incorrectly labelled. Considering the influence that sex imposes on DNA methylation patterns, it is necessary to ensure that methods for filtering poor samples and checking of sex assignment are accurate and widely applicable. In this paper, we presented a novel method to predict sex using only DNA methylation density signals, which can be readily applied to almost all DNA methylation datasets of different formats (raw IDATs or text files with only density signals) uploaded to GEO. We identified 4345 significantly (p < 0.01) sex-associated CpG sites present on both 450K and EPIC arrays, and constructed a sex classifier based on the two first components of PCAs from the two sex chromosomes. The proposed method is constructed using whole blood samples and exhibits good performance across a wide range of tissues. We further demonstrated that our method can be used to identify samples with sex chromosome aneuploidy, this function is validated by five Turner syndrome cases and one Klinefelter syndrome case. The proposed method has been integrated into the wateRmelon Bioconductor package. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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