Research Articles

A portable signal causing faithful DNA methylation de novo in Neurospora crassa

Science  02 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4823, pp. 48-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.2958937


Methylation of cytosine residues in eukaryotic DNA is common, but poorly understood. Typically several percent of the cytosines are methylated; however, it is unclear what governs which sequences eventually become modified. Neurospora crassa DNA containing the "zeta-eta" (zeta-eta) region, which is a region of unusually heavy methylation, was tested for its ability to direct DNA methylation de novo. DNA stripped of its methylation by propagation in Escherichia coli was reintroduced into Neurospora crassa by transformation. The zeta-eta region reproducibly became "properly" methylated whether inserted at its native chromosomal position or at ectopic sites. Adjacent Neurospora and bacterial sequences in the transforming DNA rarely became methylated. A model is presented that accounts for position-independent faithful methylation as observed in the zeta-eta region, as well as position-dependent methylation, as occasionally observed, especially with sequences not native to Neurospora.