Potential functional roles of DNA demethylation intermediates.
Song C-X., He C.
DNA methylation in the form of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is a key epigenetic regulator in mammals, and the dynamic balance between methylation and demethylation impacts various processes from development to disease. The recent discovery of the enzymatic generation and removal of the oxidized derivatives of 5mC, namely 5-hydroxymethylcysotine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) in mammalian cells has led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the demethylation process. Interestingly, emerging evidence indicates that these DNA demethylation intermediates are dynamic and could themselves carry regulatory functions. Here, we discuss 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC as new epigenetic DNA modifications that could have distinct regulatory functions in conjunction with potential protein partners.