Format of Original
American Society for Microbiology
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Original Item ID
We have cloned two DNA fragments containing 5'-GATC-3' sites at which the adenine is methylated in the macronucleus of the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. Using these cloned fragments as molecular probes, we analyzed the maintenance of methylation patterns at two partially and two uniformly methylated sites. Our results suggest that a semiconservative copying model for maintenance of methylation is not sufficient to account for the methylation patterns we found during somatic growth of Tetrahymena. Although we detected hemimethylated molecules in macronuclear DNA, they were present in both replicating and nonreplicating DNA. In addition, we observed that a complex methylation pattern including partially methylated sites was maintained during vegetative growth. This required the activity of a methylase capable of recognizing and modifying sites specified by something other than hemimethylation. We suggest that a eucaryotic maintenance methylase may be capable of discriminating between potential methylation sites to ensure the inheritance of methylation patterns.