Author(s): Kho MR, Baker DJ, Laayoun A, Smith SS
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Abstract Single-strand conformers (SSCs) from the C-rich strand of the triplet repeat at the FMR-1 locus are rapidly and selectively methylated by the human DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferase. The apparent affinity of the enzyme for the FMR-1 SSC is about tenfold higher than it is for a control Watson-Crick paired duplex. The de novo methylation rate for the SSC is over 150-fold higher than the de novo rate for the control duplex. Methylation of what is generally called a hemi-methylated duplex occurs with a rate enhancement of over 100-fold, while methylation of what can be viewed as a hemi-methylated FMR-1 SSC is actually slower than the de novo rate. The pronounced inhibition of the methyltransferase by the methylated SSC suggests that the enzyme has a higher affinity for the methylated product of its reaction with the SSC than it has for the unmethylated SSC substrate. Gel retardation studies show that the methyltransferase binds selectively to SSCs from the C-rich strand of the FMR-1 triplet repeat. This suggests a two-step stalling process in which the human methyltransferase first selectively methlyates and subsequently stalls at the C-rich strand SSC. Stalling may reflect the inability of the enzyme to release a DNA product that is fixed in a conformation resembling its transition state by the unusual structure of the substrate. In particular, the data suggest that DNA methyltransferase may physically participate in biological processes that lead to dynamic mutation at FMR-1. In general, the data raise the possibility that a two-step stalling process occurs at secondary structures associated with chromosome instability, chromosome remodelling, viral replication or viral integration and may account for the local hypermethylation and global hypomethylation associated with viral and non-viral tumorigenesis.
This article was published in J Mol Biol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology