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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 May;86(10):3728-32.

Genomic sequencing reveals a 5-methylcytosine-free domain in active promoters and the spreading of preimposed methylation patterns.

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Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Federal Republic of Germany.


Previous work demonstrated an inverse correlation between methylation at the three 5'-CCGG-3' sequences in positions +24, +6, and -215 relative to the cap site of the late E2A promoter of adenovirus type 2 (Ad2) DNA and its activity. In the study presented here, we used the genomic sequencing method to detect 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine (m5dC) residues in 5'-CG-3' sequences other than the 5'-CCGG-3' (Hpa II) sites. The patterns of methylation in all 5'-CG-3' sequences over a region of about 180 base pairs required for gene activity in the late E2A promoter of integrated Ad2 DNA were determined in cell lines that carry this promoter in an active or inactive state. In cell lines HE1 and uc2, the late E2A promoter is active and all thirteen 5'-CG-3' sequences between positions +24 and -160 are unmethylated. In cell line HE2, the same promoter is permanently shut off and all 5'-CG-3' sequences are methylated in both strands. Thus, the inverse correlation is perfect in these cell lines over a region of about 180 base pairs in the late E2A promoter. The same promoter segment was analyzed in cell lines mc23 and mc40, in which a late E2A promoter-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene construct had been genomically fixed after in vitro 5'-CCGG-3' methylation and subsequent transfection. In cell line mc23, the preimposed methylation pattern was stable and the CAT gene was inactive. Genomic sequencing confirmed the presence of m5dC in the 5'-CCGG-3' sequences and revealed the spreading of methylation to neighboring 5'-CG-3' sequences along the entire promoter. Some of these sites were hemimethylated. In cell line mc40, several of the 120 integrated copies became demethylated in positions +24 and +6, but the promoter was methylated in some of the copies upstream of position -50. Cell line mc40 expressed the CAT gene.

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