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Clin Immunol. 2003 Oct;109(1):6-16.

Mammalian DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferases and their expression.

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New England Biolabs, 32 Tozer Road, Beverly, MA 01915, USA.


Two classes of functional DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferases have been discovered in mammals to date. One class methylates the unmodified DNA and is designated as the de novo enzyme, whereas the other maintains the methylation status of the daughter strand during DNA replication and thus is referred to as a maintenance DNA methyltransferase. Each enzyme catalyzes methyl group transfer from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to cytosine bases in DNA. During methylation the enzyme flips its target base out of the DNA duplex into a typically concave catalytic pocket. This flipped cytosine base is then a substrate for the enzyme-catalyzed reaction. The newly formed 5-methylcytosine confers epigenetic information on the parental genome without altering nucleotide sequences. This epigenetic information is inherited during DNA replication and cell division. In mammals, DNA methylation participates in gene expression, protection of the genome against selfish DNA, parental imprinting, mammalian X chromosome inactivation, developmental regulation, T cell development, and various diseases.

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