|Open Access Gold|
Staying true to yourself: Mechanisms of DNA methylation maintenance in mammals
DNA methylation is essential to development and cellular physiology in mammals. Faulty DNA methylation is frequently observed in human diseases like cancer and neurological disorders. Molecularly, this epigenetic mark is linked to other chromatin modifications and it regulates key genomic processes, including transcription and splicing. Each round of DNA replication generates two hemi-methylated copies of the genome. These must be converted back to symmetrically methylated DNA before the next S-phase, or the mark will fade away; therefore the maintenance of DNA methylation is essential. Mechanistically, the maintenance of this epigenetic modification takes place during and after DNA replication, and occurs within the very dynamic context of chromatin re-assembly. Here, we review recent discoveries and unresolved questions regarding the mechanisms, dynamics and fidelity of DNA methylation maintenance in mammals. We also discuss how it could be regulated in normal development and misregulated in disease.