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Functional characterization of DNA methyltransferases
The DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) family of enzymes has important functions in the regulation of organismal development and in the etiology of human cancers. We are pursuing several projects that aim at the functional characterization of Dnmts in model systems. Most of the work is currently focused on the characterization of the Dnmt2 methyltransferase in Drosophila. We are analyzing both the DNA and the tRNA methyltransferase activity of this enzymes, with the aim of defining their biological functions. We have recently established Dnmt2 mutant flies and are utilizing various molecular, biochemical and genetic approaches to understand the cellular pathways interacting with Dnmt2. These projects are complemented by experiments in other model organisms, including honeybees and mice and allow detailed insights into the various biological functions of cytosine methylation.