Effects of cytosine methylation on DNA morphology: An atomic force microscopy study.

08:00 EDT 14th October 2015 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Effects of cytosine methylation on DNA morphology: An atomic force microscopy study."

Methylation is one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms in eukaryotes. As a consequence of cytosine methylation, the binding of proteins that are implicated in transcription to gene promoters is severely hindered, which results in gene regulation and, eventually, gene silencing. To date, the mechanisms by which methylation biases the binding affinities of proteins to DNA are not fully understood; however, it has been proposed that changes in double-strand conformations, such as stretching, bending, and over-twisting, as well as local variations in DNA stiffness/flexibility may play a role. The present work investigates, at the single molecule level, the morphological consequences of DNA methylation in vitro. By tracking the atomic force microscopy images of single DNA molecules, we characterize DNA conformations pertaining to two different degrees of methylation. In particular, we observe that methylation induces no relevant variations in DNA contour lengths, but produces measurable incremental changes in persistence lengths. Furthermore, we observe that for the methylated chains, the statistical distribution of angles along the DNA coordinate length is characterized by a double exponential decay, in agreement with what is predicted for polyelectrolytes. The results reported herein support the claim that the biological consequences of the methylation process, specifically difficulties in protein-DNA binding, are at least partially due to DNA conformation modifications.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Biochimica et biophysica acta
ISSN: 0006-3002


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Scanning microscopy in which a very sharp probe is employed in close proximity to a surface, exploiting a particular surface-related property. When this property is local topography, the method is atomic force microscopy (MICROSCOPY, ATOMIC FORCE), and when it is local conductivity, the method is scanning tunneling microscopy (MICROSCOPY, SCANNING TUNNELING).

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Nanometer-sized tubes composed mainly of CARBON. Such nanotubes are used as probes for high-resolution structural and chemical imaging of biomolecules with ATOMIC FORCE MICROSCOPY.

Type of microscopy used to study biological systems at high resolution.

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