Emerging connections between DNA methylation and histone acetylation

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 May;58(5-6):721-7. doi: 10.1007/pl00000895.


Modifications of both DNA and chromatin can affect gene expression and lead to gene silencing. Evidence of links between DNA methylation and histone hypoacetylation is accumulating. Several proteins that specifically bind to methylated DNA are associated with complexes that include histone deacetylases (HDACs). In addition, DNA methyltransferases of mammals appear to interact with HDACs. Experiments with animal cells have shown that HDACs are responsible for part of the repressive effect of DNA methylation. Evidence was found in Neurospora that protein acetylation can in some cases affect DNA methylation. The available data suggest that the roles of DNA methylation and histone hypoacetylation, and their relationship with each other, can vary, even within an organism. Some open questions in this emerging field that should be answered in the near future are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • MBD1 protein, human
  • MBD2 protein
  • MBD2 protein, human
  • MECP2 protein, human
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SIN3 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • Histone Deacetylases