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J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2019 Jul 1;25(3):377-386. doi: 10.5056/jnm19077.

Role of DNA Methylation in the Development and Differentiation of Intestinal Epithelial Cells and Smooth Muscle Cells.

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Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Reno, USA.


The mammalian intestine contains many different cell types but is comprised of 2 main cell types: epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells. Recent in vivo and in vitro evidence has revealed that various alterations to the DNA methylation apparatus within both of these cell types can result in a variety of cellular phenotypes including modified differentiation status, apoptosis, and uncontrolled growth. Methyl groups added to cytosines in regulatory genomic regions typically act to repress associated gene transcription. Aberrant DNA methylation patterns are often found in cells with abnormal growth/differentiation patterns, including those cells involved in burdensome intestinal pathologies including inflammatory bowel diseases and intestinal pseudo-obstructions. The altered methylation patterns being observed in various cell cultures and DNA methyltransferase knockout models indicate an influential connection between DNA methylation and gastrointestinal cells' development and their response to environmental signaling. As these modified DNA methylation levels are found in a number of pathological gastrointestinal conditions, further investigations into uncovering the causative nature, and controlled regulation, of this epigenetic modification is of great interest.


Cell differentiation; DNA methylation; Intestinal mucosa; Muscle smooth

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