Send to

Choose Destination
BMB Rep. 2014 Nov;47(11):609-18.

Enzymatic DNA oxidation: mechanisms and biological significance.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China.
Centre for Molecular Biosciences, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK.


DNA methylation at cytosines (5mC) is a major epigenetic modification involved in the regulation of multiple biological processes in mammals. How methylation is reversed was until recently poorly understood. The family of dioxygenases commonly known as Ten-eleven translocation (Tet) proteins are responsible for the oxidation of 5mC into three new forms, 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC). Current models link Tet-mediated 5mC oxidation with active DNA demethylation. The higher oxidation products (5fC and 5caC) are recognized and excised by the DNA glycosylase TDG via the base excision repair pathway. Like DNA methyltransferases, Tet enzymes are important for embryonic development. We will examine the mechanism and biological significance of Tet-mediated 5mC oxidation in the context of pronuclear DNA demethylation in mouse early embryos. In contrast to its role in active demethylation in the germ cells and early embryo, a number of lines of evidence suggest that the intragenic 5hmC present in brain may act as a stable mark instead. This short review explores mechanistic aspects of TET oxidation activity, the impact Tet enzymes have on epigenome organization and their contribution to the regulation of early embryonic and neuronal development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center