Establishing, maintaining and modifying DNA methylation patterns in plants and animals

Nat Rev Genet. 2010 Mar;11(3):204-20. doi: 10.1038/nrg2719.


Cytosine DNA methylation is a stable epigenetic mark that is crucial for diverse biological processes, including gene and transposon silencing, imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. Recent findings in plants and animals have greatly increased our understanding of the pathways used to accurately target, maintain and modify patterns of DNA methylation and have revealed unanticipated mechanistic similarities between these organisms. Key roles have emerged for small RNAs, proteins with domains that bind methylated DNA and DNA glycosylases in these processes. Drawing on insights from both plants and animals should deepen our understanding of the regulation and biological significance of DNA methylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / physiology
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • DNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gametogenesis / genetics
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • DNA, Plant
  • Histones
  • RNA, Small Interfering