New concepts in DNA methylation

Trends Biochem Sci. 2014 Jul;39(7):310-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2014.05.002. Epub 2014 Jun 16.


The widely-cited model of maintenance of DNA methylation at CpG sites implies that DNA methylation is introduced by the Dnmt3 de novo DNA methyltransferases during early development, and methylation at hemimethylated CpG sites is specifically maintained by the Dnmt1 maintenance methyltransferase. However, substantial experimental evidence from the past decade indicates that this simple model needs to be revised. DNA methylation can be described by a dynamic stochastic model, in which DNA methylation at each site is determined by the local activity of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts), DNA demethylases, and the DNA replication rate. Through the targeting and regulation of these enzymes, DNA methylation is controlled by the network of chromatin marks.

Keywords: DNA methylation; DNA methyltransferase regulation; DNA methyltransferase specificity; epigenetic inheritance; stochastic model.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Replication*
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism*


  • Chromatin
  • Methyltransferases