Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 137 - 148 (2017)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.160270hc
© UPV/EHU Press

Annotating the genome by DNA methylation

Howard Cedar* and Aharon Razin

Department of Developmental Biology & Cancer Research. Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

ABSTRACT DNA methylation plays a prominent role in setting up and stabilizing the molecular design of gene regulation and by understanding this process one gains profound insight into the underlying biology of mammals. In this article, we trace the discoveries that provided the foundations of this field, starting with the mapping of methyl groups in the genome and the experiments that helped clarify how methylation patterns are maintained through cell division. We then address the basic relationship between methyl groups and gene repression, as well as the molecular rules involved in controlling this process during development in vivo. Finally, we describe ongoing work aimed at defining the role of this modification in disease and deciphering how it may serve as a mechanism for sensing the environment.

Keywords:

DNA methylation, chromatin, epigenetics, gene regulation, repression

*Corresponding author e-mail: cedar@mail.huji.ac.il