Conservation of DNA methylation in dipteran insects

Insect Mol Biol. 2004 Apr;13(2):117-23. doi: 10.1111/j.0962-1075.2004.00466.x.


DNA methylation is a central mechanism of epigenetic regulation. Whereas vertebrate DNA methylation requires at least four different DNA methyltransferases, Drosophila melanogaster only utilizes a single, Dnmt2-like enzyme. This profound difference has raised the question of the evolutionary significance of the Drosophila methylation system. We have now identified Dnmt2-like open reading frames in the genome sequences of Drosophila pseudoobscura and Anopheles gambiae. These genes represent the only candidate DNA methyltransferases in their respective genomes. Consistent with a catalytic activity of Dnmt2 proteins, we could also demonstrate low but significant levels of DNA methylation in genomic DNA from these species. Lastly, we were also able to detect highly conserved Dnmt2-like open reading frames and concomitant DNA methylation in several additional Drosophila species, which suggests that Dnmt2-mediated DNA methylation has been conserved over a considerable evolutionary distance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics*
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Primers
  • Diptera / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Electrophoresis
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Mt2 protein, Drosophila
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases