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J Biol Chem. 1987 Jul 25;262(21):9948-51.

Genomic 5-methyldeoxycytidine decreases with age.


Significant losses of DNA 5-methyldeoxycytidine residues in old age could disrupt cellular gene expression and contribute to the physiological decline of the animal. Thus, the 5-methyldeoxycytidine content of DNAs, isolated from the tissues of two rodent species of various ages, were determined. Mus musculus lost DNA methylation sites at a rate of about 4.7 X 10(4) (approximately 0.012% of the newborn level)/month. Peromyscus leucopus lost DNA 5-methyldeoxycytidine residues at a rate of only 2.3 X 10(4) (approximately 0.006% of the newborn level)/month. Since P. leucopus generally live twice as long as M. musculus, the rate of loss of DNA 5-methyldeoxycytidine residues appears to be inversely related to life span. Similar losses in genomic 5-methyldeoxycytidine content were also observed to correlate with donor age in cultured normal human bronchial epithelial cells.

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