Epigenetics: the DNA methylation profile of tissue-dependent and differentially methylated regions in cells

Placenta. 2008 Mar;29 Suppl A:S29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2007.09.011. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Methylation of DNA, which occurs at cytosines of CpG sequences, is a unique chemical modification of the vertebrate genome. Methylation patterns can be copied to daughter DNA after mitosis; thus DNA methylation has been suggested to act as a "cellular memory of the genome function". Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation revealed that there are numerous tissue-dependent differentially methylated regions (T-DMRs) in unique sequences of the mammalian genome. There are T-DMRs in both CpG-rich and -poor sequences. Methylation of T-DMRs is responsible for gene-silencing and chromatin structure change. Each tissue/cell type has a unique DNA methylation profile that consists of methylation patterns of numerous loci in the genome. DNA methylation profiles are not associated with bulk DNA, which is mainly comprised of repetitive sequences. Disruption of DNA methylation profiles putatively produce abnormal cells and tissues. Cloned mice produced by somatic nuclear transfer are associated with aberrant DNA methylation profiles. Tissue/cell type-specific DNA methylation profiles can provide a novel viewpoint for understanding normal and aberrant development, in terms of both differentiation and reproduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Placenta / cytology*
  • Placenta / physiology*
  • Pregnancy