DNA N6-methyladenine is dynamically regulated in the mouse brain following environmental stress

Nat Commun. 2017 Oct 24;8(1):1122. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01195-y.


Chemical modifications on DNA molecules, such as 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, play important roles in the mammalian brain. A novel DNA adenine modification, N(6)-methyladenine (6mA), has recently been found in mammalian cells. However, the presence and function(s) of 6mA in the mammalian brain remain unclear. Here we demonstrate 6mA dynamics in the mouse brain in response to environmental stress. We find that overall 6mA levels are significantly elevated upon stress. Genome-wide 6mA and transcriptome profiling reveal an inverse association between 6mA dynamic changes and a set of upregulated neuronal genes or downregulated LINE transposon expression. Genes bearing stress-induced 6mA changes significantly overlap with loci associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. These results suggest an epigenetic role for 6mA in the mammalian brain as well as its potential involvement in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine / analogs & derivatives
  • 5-Methylcytosine / chemistry
  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenine / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA Methylation
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Long Interspersed Nucleotide Elements
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Swimming
  • Transcriptome


  • 5-hydroxymethylcytosine
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • DNA
  • Adenine
  • 6-methyladenine