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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Nov 1;28(21):4157-65.

5-Methylcytosine DNA glycosylase activity is also present in the human MBD4 (G/T mismatch glycosylase) and in a related avian sequence.

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  • 1Friedrich Miescher-Institut, Maulbeerstrasse 66, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland.


A 1468 bp cDNA coding for the chicken homolog of the human MBD4 G/T mismatch DNA glycosylase was isolated and sequenced. The derived amino acid sequence (416 amino acids) shows 46% identity with the human MBD4 and the conserved catalytic region at the C-terminal end (170 amino acids) has 90% identity. The non-conserved region of the avian protein has no consensus sequence for the methylated DNA binding domain. The recombinant proteins from human and chicken have G/T mismatch as well as 5-methylcytosine (5-MeC) DNA glycosylase activities. When tested by gel shift assays, human recombinant protein with or without the methylated DNA binding domain binds equally well to symmetrically, hemimethylated DNA and non-methylated DNA. However, the enzyme has only 5-MeC DNA glycosylase activity with the hemimethylated DNA. Footprinting of human MBD4 and of an N-terminal deletion mutant with partially depurinated and depyrimidinated substrate reveal a selective binding of the proteins to the modified substrate around the CpG. As for 5-MeC DNA glycosylase purified from chicken embryos, MBD4 does not use oligonucleotides containing mCpA, mCpT or mCpC as substrates. An mCpG within an A+T-rich oligonucleotide is a much better substrate than an A+T-poor sequence. The K:(m) of human MBD4 for hemimethylated DNA is approximately 10(-7) M with a V:(max) of approximately 10(-11) mol/h/microgram protein. Deletion mutations show that G/T mismatch and 5-MeC DNA glycosylase are located in the C-terminal conserved region. In sharp contrast to the 5-MeC DNA glycosylase isolated from the chicken embryo DNA demethylation complex, the two enzymatic activities of MBD4 are strongly inhibited by RNA. In situ hybridization with antisense RNA indicate that MBD4 is only located in dividing cells of differentiating embryonic tissues.

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