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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Sep;11(9):607-20. doi: 10.1038/nrm2950. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Active DNA demethylation: many roads lead to Rome.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7295, USA.

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  • Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Oct;11(10):750.


DNA methylation is one of the best-characterized epigenetic modifications and has been implicated in numerous biological processes, including transposable element silencing, genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. Compared with other epigenetic modifications, DNA methylation is thought to be relatively stable. Despite its role in long-term silencing, DNA methylation is more dynamic than originally thought as active DNA demethylation has been observed during specific stages of development. In the past decade, many enzymes have been proposed to carry out active DNA demethylation and growing evidence suggests that, depending on the context, this process may be achieved by multiple mechanisms. Insight into how DNA methylation is dynamically regulated will broaden our understanding of epigenetic regulation and have great implications in somatic cell reprogramming and regenerative medicine.

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