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Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 28;7:11453. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11453.

DNMT3B isoforms without catalytic activity stimulate gene body methylation as accessory proteins in somatic cells.

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1
Department of Urology, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089, USA.

Abstract

Promoter DNA methylation is a key epigenetic mechanism for stable gene silencing, but is correlated with expression when located in gene bodies. Maintenance and de novo DNA methylation by catalytically active DNA methyltransferases (DNMT1 and DNMT3A/B) require accessory proteins such as UHRF1 and DNMT3L. DNMT3B isoforms are widely expressed, although some do not have active catalytic domains and their expression can be altered during cell development and tumourigenesis, questioning their biological roles. Here, we show that DNMT3B isoforms stimulate gene body methylation and re-methylation after methylation-inhibitor treatment. This occurs independently of the isoforms' catalytic activity, demonstrating a similar functional role to the accessory protein DNMT3L, which is only expressed in undifferentiated cells and recruits DNMT3A to initiate DNA methylation. This unexpected role for DNMT3B suggests that it might substitute for the absent accessory protein DNMT3L to recruit DNMT3A in somatic cells.

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