Metabolism and epigenetics

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2015;31:473-496. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100814-125544. Epub 2015 Sep 10.


Epigenetic mechanisms by which cells inherit information are, to a large extent, enabled by DNA methylation and posttranslational modifications of histone proteins. These modifications operate both to influence the structure of chromatin per se and to serve as recognition elements for proteins with motifs dedicated to binding particular modifications. Each of these modifications results from an enzyme that consumes one of several important metabolites during catalysis. Likewise, the removal of these marks often results in the consumption of a different metabolite. Therefore, these so-called epigenetic marks have the capacity to integrate the expression state of chromatin with the metabolic state of the cell. This review focuses on the central roles played by acetyl-CoA, S-adenosyl methionine, NAD(+), and a growing list of other acyl-CoA derivatives in epigenetic processes. We also review how metabolites that accumulate as a result of oncogenic mutations are thought to subvert the epigenetic program.

Keywords: S-adenosyl methionine; acetylation; chromatin modification; folate; methylation; oncometabolite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl Coenzyme A / genetics
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / physiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • NAD / genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • NAD
  • Acetyl Coenzyme A
  • S-Adenosylmethionine