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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 12;96(21):11940-5.

Drosophila proteins related to vertebrate DNA (5-cytosine) methyltransferases.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei, Taiwan 115.


DNA methylation at CpG residues is closely associated with a number of biological processes during vertebrate development. Unlike the vertebrates, however, several invertebrate species, including the Drosophila, do not have apparent DNA methylation in their genomes. Nor have there been reports on a DNA (5-cytosine) methyltransferase (CpG MTase) found in these invertebrates. We now present evidence for two CpG MTase-like proteins expressed in Drosophila cells. One of these, DmMTR1, is a protein containing peptide epitopes immunologically related to the conserved motifs I and IV in the catalytic domain of the mammalian dnmt1. DmMTR1 has an apparent molecular mass of 220 kDa and, similar to mammalian dnmt1, it also interacts in vivo with the proliferating cell nuclear antigen. During interphase of the syncytial Drosophila embryos, the DmMTR1 molecules are located outside the nuclei, as is dnmt1 in the mouse blastocyst. However, DmMTR1 appears to be rapidly transported into, and then out of the nuclei again, as the embryos undergo mitotic waves. Immunofluorescent data indicate that DmMTR1 molecules "paint" the whole set of condensed Drosophila chromosomes throughout the mitotic phase, suggesting they may play an essential function in the cell-cycle regulated condensation of the Drosophila chromosomes. Through search in the genomic database, we also have identified a Drosophila polypeptide, DmMT2, that exhibits high sequence homology to the mammalian dnmt2 and the yeast CpG MTase homolog pmt1. The expression of DmMT2 appears to be developmentally regulated. We discuss the evolutionary and functional implications of the discovery of these two Drosophila proteins related to mammalian CpG MTases.

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