Dynamics and function of DNA methylation in plants

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2018 Aug;19(8):489-506. doi: 10.1038/s41580-018-0016-z.


DNA methylation is a conserved epigenetic modification that is important for gene regulation and genome stability. Aberrant patterns of DNA methylation can lead to plant developmental abnormalities. A specific DNA methylation state is an outcome of dynamic regulation by de novo methylation, maintenance of methylation and active demethylation, which are catalysed by various enzymes that are targeted by distinct regulatory pathways. In this Review, we discuss DNA methylation in plants, including methylating and demethylating enzymes and regulatory factors, and the coordination of methylation and demethylation activities by a so-called methylstat mechanism; the functions of DNA methylation in regulating transposon silencing, gene expression and chromosome interactions; the roles of DNA methylation in plant development; and the involvement of DNA methylation in plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Plant
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • ROS1 protein, Arabidopsis