Mechanistic understanding of the reading and writing of DNA methylation
Dr Marcus Wilson
University of Edinburgh
If DNA is the cell’s instruction manual, then methylation of this DNA creates the tabs that help to direct how the information is read and interpreted. DNA methylation is associated with compacting DNA and turning off genes, and it is faulty in many different diseases, including cancer. DNA methyl tabs are placed on DNA by molecular machines, but we do not understand how DNA methylation is deposited and maintained throughout our lifetime.
We have been limited to looking at small fragments of the bigger picture, by studying artificial snapshots of small pieces of DNA and the molecular machines involved in placing DNA methyl tabs. We will now look at more complete structures of the molecular machines that deposit DNA methylation.
By recreating the true environment where these reactions occur in the cell, we will better explain how these molecular machines work.