N 6-Hydroxymethyladenine: a hydroxylation derivative of N6-methyladenine in genomic DNA of mammals

Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Feb 20;47(3):1268-1277. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1218.


In addition to DNA cytosine methylation (5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine, m5dC), DNA adenine methylation (N6-methyl-2'-deoxyadenosine, m6dA) is another DNA modification that has been discovered in eukaryotes. Recent studies demonstrated that the content and distribution of m6dA in genomic DNA of vertebrates and mammals exhibit dynamic regulation, indicating m6dA may function as a potential epigenetic mark in DNA of eukaryotes besides m5dC. Whether m6dA undergoes the further oxidation in a similar way to m5dC remains elusive. Here, we reported the existence of a new DNA modification, N6-hydroxymethyl-2'-deoxyadenosine (hm6dA), in genomic DNA of mammalian cells and tissues. We found that hm6dA can be formed from the hydroxylation of m6dA by the Fe2+- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent ALKBH1 protein in genomic DNA of mammals. In addition, the content of hm6dA exhibited significant increase in lung carcinoma tissues. The increased expression of ALKBH1 in lung carcinoma tissues may contribute to the increase of hm6dA in DNA. Taken together, our study reported the existence and formation of hm6dA in genomic DNA of mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenine / chemical synthesis
  • Adenine / metabolism*
  • Adenine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • DNA / drug effects
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Genome / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation / drug effects
  • Mammals


  • DNA
  • Adenine