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Genes Dev. 1997 Sep 15;11(18):2383-95.

DNA methylation inhibits elongation but not initiation of transcription in Neurospora crassa.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403-1229, USA.


In plants, animals, and fungi, DNA methylation is frequently associated with gene silencing, yet little is known about the role of the methylation in silencing. In Neurospora crassa, repeated sequences are silenced by repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) and genes that have suffered numerous GC --> AT mutations by RIP are typically methylated at remaining cytosines. We investigated possible effects on transcription from methylation associated with RIP by taking advantage of 5-azacytidine, which prevents most methylation in Neurospora and a dim-2 mutation that abolishes all detectable methylation. Northern analyses revealed that methylation prevents the accumulation of transcripts from genes mutated by RIP. Measurements of transcription rates in vivo showed that methylation inhibits transcription severely but does not influence mRNA stability. Results of nuclear run-on experiments demonstrated that transcription initiation was not significantly inhibited by the dense methylation in the promoter sequences. In contrast, methylation blocked transcription elongation in vivo.

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