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Integr Comp Biol. 2014 Jul;54(1):68-76. doi: 10.1093/icb/icu034. Epub 2014 May 10.

The dynamic nature of DNA methylation: a role in response to social and seasonal variation.

Author information

1
*Stanford University, Gilbert Biology #314, 371 Serra Mall, Palo Alto CA 940305; Carleton University, Steacie Building #507, 1125 Colonel By Ottawa Ontario, K1S5B6; McGill University, McIntyre Medical Building #1309, 3655 Sir William Osler,Montreal, Quebec H3G1Y6 sebastian.g.alvarado@gmail.com.
2
*Stanford University, Gilbert Biology #314, 371 Serra Mall, Palo Alto CA 940305; Carleton University, Steacie Building #507, 1125 Colonel By Ottawa Ontario, K1S5B6; McGill University, McIntyre Medical Building #1309, 3655 Sir William Osler,Montreal, Quebec H3G1Y6.
3
*Stanford University, Gilbert Biology #314, 371 Serra Mall, Palo Alto CA 940305; Carleton University, Steacie Building #507, 1125 Colonel By Ottawa Ontario, K1S5B6; McGill University, McIntyre Medical Building #1309, 3655 Sir William Osler,Montreal, Quebec H3G1Y6*Stanford University, Gilbert Biology #314, 371 Serra Mall, Palo Alto CA 940305; Carleton University, Steacie Building #507, 1125 Colonel By Ottawa Ontario, K1S5B6; McGill University, McIntyre Medical Building #1309, 3655 Sir William Osler,Montreal, Quebec H3G1Y6.

Abstract

An organism's ability to adapt to its environment depends on its ability to regulate and maintain tissue specific, temporal patterns of gene transcription in response to specific environmental cues. Epigenetic mechanisms are responsible for many of the intricacies of a gene's regulation that alter expression patterns without affecting the genetic sequence. In particular, DNA methylation has been shown to have an important role in regulating early development and in some human diseases. Within these domains, DNA methylation has been extensively characterized over the past 60 years, but the discovery of its role in regulating behavioral outcomes has led to renewed interest in its potential roles in animal behavior and phenotypic plasticity. The conservation of DNA methylation across the animal kingdom suggests a possible role in the plasticity of genomic responses to environmental cues in natural environments. Here, we review the historical context for the study of DNA methylation, its function and mechanisms, and provide examples of gene/environment interactions in response to social and seasonal cues. Finally, we discuss useful tools to interrogate and dissect the function of DNA methylation in non-model organisms.

PMID:
24813708
PMCID:
PMC4133575
DOI:
10.1093/icb/icu034
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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