Genetics

Can stress in the womb lead to mental resilience later in life?

Maternal stress during or after pregnancy has been repeatedly associated with subsequent psychiatric problems and non-coding 'epigenetic' DNA changes during childhood. Animal studies, however, suggest that prenatal stress ...

Genetics

How lifestyle affects our genes

In the past decade, knowledge of how lifestyle affects our genes, a research field called epigenetics, has grown exponentially. Researchers at Lund University have summarised the state of scientific knowledge within epigenetics ...

Genetics

Researchers relate DNA methylation levels to obesity

DNA methylation is a mechanism that regulates whether genes are "on" or "off", and is influenced by hereditary and environmental factors, as well as lifestyle and nutritional habits.

Genetics

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes

A new Northwestern University study challenges prevailing understandings of genes as immutable features of biology that are fixed at conception.

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DNA methylation

DNA methylation is a type of chemical modification of DNA that can be inherited and subsequently removed without changing the original DNA sequence. As such, it is part of the epigenetic code and is also the best characterized epigenetic mechanism. Because methylation is a common capability of all viruses for self non-self identification, the epigenetic code could be a persistent remnant of ancient viral infection events.

DNA methylation involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA — for example, to the number 5 carbon of the cytosine pyrimidine ring — in this case with the specific effect of reducing gene expression. DNA methylation at the 5 position of cytosine has been found in every vertebrate examined. In adult somatic tissues, DNA methylation typically occurs in a CpG dinucleotide context; non-CpG methylation is prevalent in embryonic stem cells.

In plants, cytosines are methylated both symmetrically (CpG or CpNpG) and asymmetrically (CpNpNp), where N can be any nucleotide but guanine.

Research has suggested that long term memory storage in humans may be regulated by DNA methylation.

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