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, 6 (3), 380-9

DNA Methyltransferases


DNA Methyltransferases

T H Bestor et al. Curr Opin Cell Biol.


Mammals have long been known to tag their DNA by the addition of methyl groups to cytosine residues. Only quite recently, however, has the functional significance of DNA methylation established a firm footing. Evidence now indicates that DNA methylation is essential for development, and is involved in both programmed and ectopic gene inactivation. Recent structural and mechanistic work on bacterial cytosine-5-methyltransferases has provided much insight into the function of the carboxy-terminal catalytic domain of eukaryotic cytosine-5-methyltransferases; evidence is emerging that the amino-terminal domain targets the enzyme to the replication machinery and may be involved in sensing the pre-existing methylation state of the DNA.

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