Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Genome Biol. 2010;11(6):R63. doi: 10.1186/gb-2010-11-6-r63. Epub 2010 Jun 18.

Active DNA demethylation in human postmitotic cells correlates with activating histone modifications, but not transcription levels.

Author information

  • 1Department of Hematology, University Hospital Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, 93042 Regensburg, Germany.



In mammals, the dynamics of DNA methylation, in particular the regulated, active removal of cytosine methylation, has remained a mystery, partly due to the lack of appropriate model systems to study DNA demethylation. Previous work has largely focused on proliferating cell types that are mitotically arrested using pharmacological inhibitors to distinguish between active and passive mechanisms of DNA demethylation.


We explored this epigenetic phenomenon in a natural setting of post-mitotic cells: the differentiation of human peripheral blood monocytes into macrophages or dendritic cells, which proceeds without cell division. Using a global, comparative CpG methylation profiling approach, we identified many novel examples of active DNA demethylation and characterized accompanying transcriptional and epigenetic events at these sites during monocytic differentiation. We show that active DNA demethylation is not restricted to proximal promoters and that the time-course of demethylation varies for individual CpGs. Irrespective of their location, the removal of methylated cytosines always coincided with the appearance of activating histone marks.


Demethylation events are highly reproducible in monocyte-derived dendritic cells from different individuals. Our data suggest that active DNA demethylation is a precisely targeted event that parallels or follows the modification of histones, but is not necessarily coupled to alterations in transcriptional activity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (5)Free text

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central Icon for Faculty of 1000
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk