Biochemistry (Moscow)

, Volume 72, Issue 12, pp 1289–1298

A view of an elemental naturalist at the DNA world (Base composition, sequences, methylation)

Article

Abstract

The pioneering data on base composition and pyrimidine sequences in DNA of pro-and eukaryotes are considered, and their significance for the origin of genosystematics is discussed. The modern views on specificity and functional role of enzymatic DNA methylation in eukaryotes are described. DNA methylation controls all genetic functions and is a mechanism of cellular differentiation and gene silencing. A model of regulation of DNA replication by methylation is suggested. Adenine DNA methylation in higher eukaryotes (higher plants) was first observed, and it was established that one and the same gene can be methylated at both cytosine and adenine moieties. Thus, there are at least two different and seemingly interdependent DNA methylation systems present in eukaryotic cells. The first eukaryotic adenine DNA-methyltransferase is isolated from wheat seedlings and described: the enzyme methylates DNA with formation of N6-methyladenine in the sequence TGATCA → TGm6ATCA. It is found that higher plants have endonucleases that are dependent on S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) and sensitive to DNA methylation status. Therefore, as in bacteria, plants seem to have a restriction-modification (R-M) system. A system of conjugated up-and down-regulation of SAM-dependent endonucleases by SAM modulations is found in plants. Revelation of an essential role of DNA methylation in regulation of genetic processes is a fundament of materialization of epigenetics and epigenomics.

Key words

genosystematics DNA base composition DNA-methylation N6-methyladenine 5-methylcytosine cancer replication aging evolution plant endonucleases epigenetics 

Abbreviations

m6A

N6-methyladenine

m5C

5-methylcytosine

SAH

S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine

SAM

S-adenosyl-L-methionine

SiBA

S-isobutyladenosine

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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical BiologyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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