Background: Methylation at CpG dinucleotides in genomic DNA is a fundamental epigenetic mechanism of gene expression control in vertebrates. Proteins with a methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD) can bind to single methylated CpGs and most of them are involved in transcription control. So far, five vertebrate MBD proteins have been described as MBD family members: MBD1, MBD2, MBD3, MBD4 and MECP2.
Results: We performed database searches for new proteins containing an MBD and identified six amino acid sequences which are different from the previously described ones. Here we present a comparison of their MBD sequences, additional protein motifs and the expression of the encoding genes. A calculated unrooted dendrogram indicates the existence of at least four different groups of MBDs within these proteins. Two of these polypeptides, KIAA1461 and KIAA1887, were only present as predicted amino acid sequences based on a partial human cDNA. We investigated their expression by Northern blot analysis and found transcripts of ~8 kb and ~5 kb respectively, in all eight normal tissues studied.
Conclusions: Eleven polypeptides with a MBD could be identified in mouse and man. The analysis of protein domains suggests a role in transcriptional regulation for most of them. The knowledge of additional existing MBD proteins and their expression pattern is important in the context of Rett syndrome.