DNA methylation at cytosine position 5

Currie, Graeme M. (1992). DNA methylation at cytosine position 5. PHD thesis, Aston University.

Abstract

DNA methylation appears to be involved in the regulation of gene expression. Transcriptionally inactive (silenced) genes normally contain a high proportion of 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytosine residues whereas transcriptionally active genes show much reduced levels. There appears good reason to believe that chemical agents capable of methylating 2'-deoxycytosine might affect gene expression and as a result of hypermethylating promoter regions of cytosine-guanine rich oncogenic sequences, cancer related genes may be silenced. This thesis describes the synthesis of a number of `electrophilic' S-methylsulphonium compounds and assesses their ability to act as molecules capable of methylating cytosine at position 5 and also considers their potential as cytotoxic agents. DNA is methylated in vivo by DNA methyltransferase utilising S-adenoxylmethionine as the methyl donor. This thesis addresses the theory that S-adenoxylmethionine may be replaced as the methyl donor for DNA methytransferase by other sulphonium compounds. S-[3H-methyl]methionine sulphonium iodide was synthesised and experiments to assess the ability of this compounds to transfer methyl groups to cytosine in the presence of DNA methyltransferase were unsuccessful. A proline residue adjacent to a cysteine residue has been identified to a highly conserved feature of the active site region of a large number of prokaryotic DNA methyltransferases. The thesis examines the possibility that short peptides containing the Pro-Cys fragment may be able to facilitate the alkylation of cytosine position 5 by sulphonium compounds. Peptides were synthesised up to 9 amino acids in length but none were shown to exhibit significant activity. Molecular modelling techniques, including Chem-X, Quanta, BIPED and protein structure prediction programs were used to assess any structural similarities that may exist between short peptides containing a Pro-Cys fragment and similar sequences present in proteins. A number of similar structural features were observed.

Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Pharmacy
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: 5-methylcytosine,DNA methyltransferase,oncogene,sulphonium,methylation,Pro-Cys,modelling
Completed Date: 1992-05

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