Study describes mechanism that regulates activity of memory gene

The protein PKMzeta is known to be associated with long-term memory formation. Neurological disorders such Alzheimer's disease, as well as depression and aging, correlate with reduced levels of this protein in the brain. ...

Studying epigenetic regulation at the single-molecule level

If one imagines the genome as an instruction manual for the functioning of a cell, every page of this manual is covered with annotations, highlights, and bookmarks. The role of some of these marks remains mysterious—do ...

From octopus to elephant: A molecular zoo of epigenetics

Our genes are encoded in the DNA sequence of the genome, which is highly similar across the diverse cell types of our body. Yet, each cell can only access those genes that are in an epigenetically permissive state. The epigenome ...

Endogenous retroviruses: Link to programmed aging found

The co-option between viruses and humans plays important roles during human evolution. Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), belonging to long terminal repeat retrotransposons, are a relic of ancient retroviral infection, fixed ...

A unique approach for studying changes in chemical markers on DNA

A new method to study specific changes in DNA after replication has been published as a technical report in Nature Cell Biology. Researchers developed a highly sensitive, quantitative mass spectrometry-based approach, called ...

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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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