Adenine methylation in Tetrahymena thermophila: a computational tool

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Robert Lowe

    Queen Mary University of London

Project summary

Adenine methylation (6mA) is the main DNA modification in unicellular eukaryotes and despite being identified for some time, the biological functions of this modification are still poorly understood. As with many systems, computational modelling can provide important insights into molecular processes but efficacy is often restricted by the complex nature of multicellular organisms. Strikingly, organisms which have high levels of 6mA have low levels of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) while those with high levels of 5mC have low levels of 6mA. This suggests that there may be a common biological function for 6mA and 5mC and that understanding the biological function of 6mA may prove useful in understanding the biology of 5mC.

We will investigate the role of 6mA during growth in the single-cell eukaryote Tetrahymena thermophila. We will produce the first genome-wide maps of 6mA in a single-cell model eukaryote, determine the relationship between 6mA and transcription and investigate whether 6mA is dynamic during growth.

These studies will lay the foundation for Tetrahymena thermophila to be used as an effective computational model organism, exploiting its complexity, unicellularity and physiological responses to further explore the biological functions of 6mA.