Work will be based on MspJI family of restriction enzymes.

New England Biolabs (NEB) received SBIR funding of $1.22 million for research and development of novel enzymatic reagents for epigenetic studies. Scientists at NEB recently identified the MspJI family of restriction enzymes and demonstrated their utility in mapping epigenetic modifications.

This family of enzymes has the ability to cleave out small fragments of DNA for use in applications such as next-generation sequencing as well as to identify 5-hydroxymethylcytosine modifications, when used in conjunction with T4 B-glucosyltransferase. Funding will go toward continuing this work, simplifying the study of epigenetic DNA modifications, and expanding their potential as biomarkers.

“In addition, NEB is working to develop methylation-sensitive/resistant enzymes that can provide more complete coverage of CpG locations and high-affinity binding reagents to pull down sparsely populated MeCpG or unmethylated CpG regions of DNA,” remarks a spokesperson for New England Biolabs.

Richard Roberts, Ph.D., CSO at New England Biolabs, adds, “The discovery of MspJI and its homologs offers a significant opportunity for greatly expanding the role of restriction enzymes in epigenetics research. The use of MspJI and other restriction enzymes in this family will simplify the study of DNA methylation and will accelerate our understanding of the role of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the epigenome.”

Established in the mid 1970s, New England Biolabs discovers and produces enzymes for molecular biology applications and offers a selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research. The company is expanding its products into areas related to PCR, gene expression, cellular analysis, epigenetics, and RNA analysis.

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