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Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 May;53(5):766-84. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcs008. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

DNA methylation in plants: relationship to small RNAs and histone modifications, and functions in transposon inactivation.

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PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency, 4-1-8 Honcho Kawaguchi, Saitama 332-0012, Japan.


DNA methylation is a type of epigenetic marking that strongly influences chromatin structure and gene expression in plants and mammals. Over the past decade, DNA methylation has been intensively investigated in order to elucidate its control mechanisms. These studies have shown that small RNAs are involved in the induction of DNA methylation, that there is a relationship between DNA methylation and histone methylation, and that the base excision repair pathway has an important role in DNA demethylation. Some aspects of DNA methylation have also been shown to be shared with mammals, suggesting that the regulatory pathways are, in part at least, evolutionarily conserved. Considerable progress has been made in elucidating the mechanisms that control DNA methylation; however, many aspects of the mechanisms that read the information encoded by DNA methylation and mediate this into downstream regulation remain uncertain, although some candidate proteins have been identified. DNA methylation has a vital role in the inactivation of transposons, suggesting that DNA methylation is a key factor in the evolution and adaptation of plants.

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