Kinetics of DNA Methylation in Eukaryotes

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The methylation and demethylation of the 5-position in cytosine, which stops the expression of the gene in vertebrates, is passed along on one strand of DNA. The daughter cells may spontaneously methylate (at rate ) or demethylate (at rate ). At the step of successive divisions, the probabilities of the cell having one, two, or none of its labile sites methylated are denoted by , , and , which give the proportion of homomethylated, hemi-methylated, and unmethylated sites, respectively, in generation .

Contributed by: Benson R. Sundheim (May 2013)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The kinetic equations,




are recast as:

and the time evolution of is calculated by recursion.


[1] S. P. Otto and V. Walbot, "DNA Methylation in Eukaryotes: Kinetics of Demethylation and de Novo Methylation During the Life Cycle," Genetics, 124(2), 1990 pp. 429–437.

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