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New Insights into Epigenetic Modification of DNA from Theoretical Simulation

5 February 2015

DNA Surface

Epigenetic modifications to DNA have the potential to affect gene expression, and play a major role in the complex pattern of development and differentiation of multi-cellular organisms. Fascinatingly, such modifications may be heritable despite not affecting DNA sequence.

Two new papers from the group of Dr Jamie Platts, in collaboration with groups in Sweden, have used modern theoretical methods to shed light on how one important modification, cytosine methylation, affects the structure and dynamics of DNA.  Structural effects of methylation are found in twist, roll and tilt angles, and relate to the unwinding of the double helix that is necessary for DNA replication and protein synthesis. Changes in hydration patterns in major and minor grooves of DNA are also seen on methylation. Significantly, all such changes are found to be sequence-dependent, such that it is important to consider not only how, but also where, DNA is modified within the genetic code.

Both studies are published as Open Access:

http://f1000research.com/articles/4-52/v1 (DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.6148.1)

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/15592294.2014.988043#.VQrYmuGKJEA (DOI: 10.4161/15592294.2014.988043)

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