The addition and removal of methyl groups on DNA plays an important role in gene regulation. In order to study these mechanisms more precisely, a German team has developed a new method by which specific methylation sites can be blocked and then unblocked at a precise time through irradiation with light (photocaging). As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the required regent is produced enzymatically, in situ.
Although they look very different and serve completely different functions, all cells in our body have identical DNA. However, they do not use the same genes. Certain genes are turned on and others off, depending on the type of cell and the moment in time. The “switches” are chemical changes in the building blocks of the DNA. These changes are called epigenetic modifications. One significant regulation mechanism is methylation and demethylation, meaning the attachment and removal of a methyl group (-CH(3)). The