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J Biol Chem. 1982 Aug 10;257(15):8581-3.

Presence of a DNA demethylating activity in the nucleus of murine erythroleukemic cells.


Nucleoplasm prepared from murine erythroleukemia cells was assayed from enzymatic activity which removes methyl groups from DNA methylated at the internal C of the sequence 5'-CCGG-3' (Hpa II sites). Under the conditions of assay, the release of methyl groups was linear with time for 1 h, and up to 2 pmol could be released per microgram of extract protein. The activity was proportional to the amount of added extract and was sensitive to heat ant to proteinase K exposure. The initial velocity was hyperbolic with increasing amounts of substrate, and the Km for methyl groups was estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 microM. These results show that DNA demethylation catalyzed by extracts from cell nuclei can occur in vitro where no DNA synthesis is occurring and suggest that such a process might occur in vivo to alter DNA methylation during differentiation.

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