"The methyl groups can turn off the gene that lies in a stretch of DNA where it is added. TET1 is another type of enzyme that can fine tune the signals that control gene activity by changing the methyl groups which thereafter are removed," says Kristian Helin.TET1 controls fetal development
"Our most important finding is that TET1 acts like a safe guard and prevents that methyl groups are attached to genes that needs to be active for normal growth and development of our cells. That is crucial for normal fetal development," says PhD student Kristine Williams.
Selected genes needs to be active in the stem cells of our body, before the cells are specialised to one of the more than 200 specialised cell types that exist in our body. Other genes need only to be active in specialised cell types as for example liver cells, muscle cells or nerve cells.When cancer cells develop
"If methyl groups are deployed to genes that are usually active in normal cells, the genes are turned off and this can be detrimental. If it happens to tumor suppressor genes, it can be a step towards cancer development as the genes no longer can protect against unintended cell growth," says Kristian Helin.TET enzymes and blood cancers
Original paper: "TET1 and hydroxymethylcytosine in transcription and DNA methylation fidelity", Williams et al., Nature April 13, 2011
Kristian Helin | EurekAlert!
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