Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Threaded through a Pore - Single-molecule detection of hydroxymethylcytosine in DNA

Changes in the bases that make up DNA act as markers, telling a cell which genes it should read and which it shouldn’t.

In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a British team has now introduced a new method that makes it possible to enrich the rare gene segments that contain the modified base hydroxymethylcytosine and to identify individual hydroxymethylcytosine molecules in DNA. Such modifications are associated with autoimmune diseases and cancer.

The bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine make up the genetic code. Every cell of the body contains an identical set of complete genetic material. However, the various tissues in the body are very different from each other.

This is because the cells have the ability to transcribe only a specific selection of genes into proteins, leaving other genes unused. Epigenetic factors such as “markers” on the DNA control this process.

The base cytosine can be equipped with different side groups, such as a methyl or hydroxymethyl group. Dense methylation of regulatory gene segments switches off the corresponding genes. During development of the embryo, methylation patterns initiate cell differentiation.

Changes in the methylation patterns are associated with autoimmune diseases and cancer. Hydroxymethylcytosine patterns also seem to play a role in the differentiation of embryonic stem cells as well as in gene expression in cells of the central nervous system.

Sequencing techniques that can be used to specifically detect epigenetic bases are thus very important. To date, the identification of hydroxymethylcytosine has required complex, expensive, or error-prone processes. A team led by Hagan Bayley at the University of Oxford University has now developed a chemical modification that allows for the differentiation of hydroxymethylcytosine and methylcytosine through sequencing in nanopores.

Developed by Oxford Nanopore, a company formed by Hagan Bayley in 2005, the nanopore method is a highly promising alternative to the sequencing of individual DNA molecules without an amplification step. Fed by an enzyme, a single strand of DNA threads through a membrane-embedded protein pore.

Depending on which of the bases is in the narrowest part of the pore at a given time, there is a characteristic change in the flow of current through the pore.

A chemical reaction between hydroxymethylcytosine, bisulfite, and a cysteine-containing peptide that leaves the other bases—including methylcytosine—unchanged, greatly improves the resolution as the various bases result in differences in current.

Importantly, it is possible to attach a fluorescent marker to the modified site, or a molecular “eye” that can be used to attach the rare hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNA fragments to “hooks” that allow the fragments to be enriched over unmodified fragments, enabling rapid sequence analysis.

About the Author
Hagan Bayley is the Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford, and the founder of Oxford Nanopore Technologies. He was recognized by the RSC as Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 and was the society's Interdisciplinary Prize winner in 2012. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Author: Hagan Bayley, University of Oxford (UK),

Title: Single-Molecule Detection of 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in DNA through Chemical Modification and Nanopore Analysis

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

Hagan Bayley | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>