DNA methylation: Superior or subordinate in the epigenetic hierarchy?

Bilian Jin, Yajun Li, Keith D. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

318 Scopus citations


Epigenetic modifications are heritable changes in gene expression not encoded by the DNA sequence. In the past decade, great strides have been made in characterizing epigenetic changes during normal development and in disease states like cancer. However, the epigenetic landscape has grown increasingly complicated, encompassing DNA methylation, the histone code, noncoding RNA, and nucleosome positioning, along with DNA sequence. As a stable repressive mark, DNA methylation, catalyzed by the DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), is regarded as a key player in epigenetic silencing of transcription. DNA methylation may coordinately regulate the chromatin status via the interaction of DNMTs with other modifications and with components of the machinery mediating those marks. In this review, we will comprehensively examine the current understanding of the connections between DNA methylation and other epigenetic marks and discuss molecular mechanisms of transcriptional repression in development and in carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-617
Number of pages11
JournalGenes and Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • DNA methylation
  • DNA methyltransferase
  • chromatin
  • epigenetics
  • histone code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA methylation: Superior or subordinate in the epigenetic hierarchy?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this