Research ArticleMOLECULAR BIOLOGY

No evidence for DNA N6-methyladenine in mammals

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Science Advances  18 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 12, eaay3335
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay3335

Abstract

N6-methyladenine (6mdA) is a widespread DNA modification in bacteria. More recently, 6mdA has also been characterized in mammalian DNA. However, measurements of 6mdA abundance and profiles are often very dissimilar between studies, even when performed on DNA from identical mammalian cell types. Using comprehensive bioinformatics analyses of published data and novel experimental approaches, we reveal that efforts to assay 6mdA in mammals have been severely compromised by bacterial contamination, RNA contamination, technological limitations, and antibody nonspecificity. These complications render 6mdA an exceptionally problematic DNA modification to study and have resulted in erroneous detection of 6mdA in several mammalian systems. Together, our results strongly imply that the evidence published to date is not sufficient to support the presence of 6mdA in mammals.

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