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J Biol Chem. 2010 Sep 17;285(38):29091-100. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.142513. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

The inherent processivity of the human de novo methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) is enhanced by DNMT3L.

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Interdepartmental Program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106-9510, USA.


Human DNMT3A is responsible for de novo DNA cytosine methylation patterning during development. Here we show that DNMT3A methylates 5-8 CpG sites on human promoters before 50% of the initially bound enzyme dissociates from the DNA. Processive methylation is enhanced 3-fold in the presence of DNMT3L, an inactive homolog of DNMT3A, therefore providing a mechanism for the previously described DNMT3L activation of DNMT3A. DNMT3A processivity on human promoters is also regulated by DNA topology, where a 2-fold decrease in processivity was observed on supercoiled DNA in comparison with linear DNA. These results are the first observation that DNMT3A utilizes this mechanism of increasing catalytic efficiency. Processive de novo DNA methylation provides a mechanism that ensures that multiple CpG sites undergo methylation for transcriptional regulation and silencing of newly integrated viral DNA.

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