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Discovery of the Seventh and Eight Bases of DNA

James Swenberg, DVM, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
NIEHS Grants P30ES010126 and P42ES005948

NIEHS Superfund Research Program Grantees at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have discovered the seventh and eighth bases of DNA. These last two bases, called 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine, are actually versions of cytosine that have been modified by Tet proteins, molecular entities thought to play a role in DNA demethylation and stem cell reprogramming. The finding could have important implications for stem cell research, as it could provide researchers with new tools to erase previous methylation patterns to reprogram adult cells. It also could inform cancer research, as it could give scientists the opportunity to reactivate tumor suppressor genes that had been silenced by DNA methylation.

Citation: Citation: Ito S, Shen L, Dai Q, Wu SC,Collins LB, Swenberg JA, He C, Zhang Y. Tet Proteins Can Convert 5-Methylcytosine to 5-Formylcytosine and 5-Carboxylcytosine, Science. 2011 Aug 4. [DOI:10.1126/science.1210944]

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