Genomic DNA methylation: the mark and its mediators

Trends Biochem Sci. 2006 Feb;31(2):89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2005.12.008. Epub 2006 Jan 5.


Methylation of DNA at position five of the cytosine ring occurs at most CpG dinucleotides in the mammalian genome and is essential for embryonic viability. With several of the key proteins now known, it has become possible to approach the biological significance of this epigenetic system through both biochemistry and genetics. As a result, advances have been made in our understanding of the mechanisms by which DNA methylation is targeted to specific regions of the genome and interpreted by methyl-CpG-binding proteins. Recent studies have illuminated the role of DNA methylation in controlling gene expression and have strengthened its links with histone modification and chromatin remodelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CpG Islands / physiology
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation* / drug effects
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Silencing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Rett Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MBD1 protein, human
  • MECP2 protein, human
  • Mbd2 protein, mouse
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Transcription Factors
  • ZBTB33 protein, human
  • DNMT3L protein, human
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases