In eukaryotic cells, nuclear DNA is subject to enzymatic methylation with the formation of 5-methylcytosine residues, mostly within the CG and CNG sequences. In plants and animals this DNA methylation is species-, tissue-, and organelle-specific. It changes (decreases) with age and is regulated by hormones. On the other hand, genome methylation can control hormonal signal. Replicative and post-replicative DNA methylation types are distinguished. They are mediated by multiple DNA methyltransferases with different site-specificity. Replication is accompanied by the appearance of hemimethylated DNA sites. Pronounced asymmetry of the DNA strand methylation disappears to the end of the cell cycle. A model of methylation-regulated DNA replication is proposed. DNA methylation controls all genetic processes in the cell (replication, transcription, DNA repair, recombination, and gene transposition). It is the mechanism of cell differentiation, gene discrimination and silencing. In animals, suppression of DNA methylation stops development (embryogenesis), switches on apoptosis, and is usually lethal. Disruption of DNA methylation pattern results in the malignant cell transformation and serves as one of the early diagnostic features of carcinogenesis. In malignant cell the pattern of DNA methylation, as well as the set of DNA methyltransferase activities, differs from that in normal cell. In plants inhibition of DNA methylation is accompanied by the induction of seed storage and florescence genes. In eukaryotes one and the same gene can be simultaneously methylated both at cytosine and adenine residues. It can be thus suggested, that the plant cell contains at least two different, and probably, interdependent systems of DNA methylation. The first eukaryotic adenine DNA methyltransferase was isolated from plants. This enzyme methylates DNA with the formation of N6-methyladenine residues in the sequence TGATCA (TGATCA → TGm 6ATCA). Plants possess AdoMet-dependent endonucleases sensitive to DNA methylation. It seems likely that plants, similarly to microorganisms and some lower eukaryotes, have restriction-modification (R-M) system. Discovery of the essential role of DNA methylation in regulation of genetic processes served as a principle basis and materialization of epigenetics and epigenomics.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 21, 2006
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