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Genome Res. 2004 Sep;14(9):1733-40. Epub 2004 Aug 12.

Preference of DNA methyltransferases for CpG islands in mouse embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Biochemistry, Animal Resource Sciences/Veterinary Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


Many CpG islands have tissue-dependent and differentially methylated regions (T-DMRs) in normal cells and tissues. To elucidate how DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts) participate in methylation of the genomic components, we investigated the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern of the T-DMRs with Dnmt1-, Dnmt3a-, and/or Dnmt3b-deficient ES cells by restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS). Approximately 1300 spots were detected in wild-type ES cells. In Dnmt1(-/-) ES cells, additional 236 spots emerged, indicating that the corresponding loci are methylated by Dnmt1 in wild-type ES cells. Intriguingly, in Dnmt3a(-/-)Dnmt3b(-/-) ES cells, the same 236 spots also emerged, and no additional spots appeared differentially. Therefore, Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a/3b share targets in CpG islands. Cloning and virtual image RLGS revealed that 81% of the RLGS spots were associated with genes, and 62% of the loci were in CpG islands. By contrast to the previous reports that demethylation at repeated sequences was severe in Dnmt1(-/-) cells compared with Dnmt3a(-/-)Dnmt3b(-/-) cells, a complete loss of methylation was observed at RLGS loci in Dnmt3a(-/-)Dnmt3b(-/-) cells, whereas methylation levels only decreased to 16% to 48% in the Dnmt1(-/-) cells. We concluded that there are CpG islands with T-DMR as targets shared by Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a/3b and that each Dnmt has target preferences depending on the genomic components.

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