To test the influence of pyrimidine methyl groups on DNA flexibility and helix repeat, two sets of 14 mixed sequence DNA molecules, spanning a range of lengths from 158 to 180 base pairs, were cyclized with T4 DNA ligase. The two sets differed only in that the Cyt-5 positions of all cytosines (80-90 cytosine residues per molecule) were fully methylated in the members of one set. Determination of the molar cyclization factors, persistence lengths, helix repeats, and torsional elastic constants revealed no significant differences between the two sets. These results imply that, at least for mixed sequence DNA, the biological consequences of cytosine methylation are likely to derive from either local structural distortions in the helix, which do not propagate as altered twist, or from direct protein-methyl cytosine interactions.
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