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TransMETH Report Summary

Project ID: 615371
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Mid-Term Report Summary - TRANSMETH (Identification of novel functions and regulators of DNA methylation in mammals)

DNA methylation is a process by which methyl (CH3) groups are added to DNA. This occurs mostly on one of the four nucleotides of DNA, the cytosine. The conversion of cytosine bases to 5-methylcytosine is catalyzed by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). This small chemical modification of cytosines is abundant in mammalian genomes and has important regulatory functions. It is used by cells to modulate the expression of genes and fix some genes in a stable “off” state, which is vital for a number of biological processes such as embryonic development, organogenesis and sexual reproduction. This chemical mark of DNA needs to be tightly controlled because errors in DNA methylation can promote cancer. The project “TransMETH” is dedicated to the study of DNA methylation in mammalian genomes. We wish to understand how DNA methylation patterns contribute to cellular decisions and what factors recruit DNA methylation at specific sites in the genome. During the course of the project, we have generated comprehensive maps of DNA methylation patterns in mammalian embryos and discovered molecular pathways that help recruit DNA methylation to silence genes in development. Using a combination of genetic, bioinformatic and molecular approaches, we continue studying novel functions and regulators of DNA methylation in mammals.

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