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In the last decade great strides have been made in understanding the molecular biology of the cell. The entire sequence of the human genome, and the entire genomes of a number of other organisms and microorganisms, are now available to researchers on the World Wide Web. As we enter the postgenome era, research efforts will increasingly focus on the mechanisms that control the expression of genes and the interactions between proteins encoded by the genomic DNA. Most of what we know about DNA methylation in mammals indicates that it is likely to be part of a system affecting chromatin structure and transcriptional control. As such, mammalian DNA methylation has traditionally attracted intense research interest from scientists in the fields of Development and Cancer biology. The recent discovery that two human diseases, ICF syndrome (1) (Immunodeficiency, Centromeric region instability, Facial abnormalities) and Rett syndrome (2), a form of X-linked mental retardation, are caused by mutations in genes coding for a methyltransferase and a methyl-CpG binding protein, respectively, has broadened and intensified interest further. This book has been compiled in the hope that it will be a useful technical manual for those in the field of DNA methylation. What follows is a brief review of key facts and developments in the field in the hope that, for the uninitiated, this will help to set the technical chapters in context.
KeywordsMouse Embryonic Stem Cell Rett Syndrome MeCP2 Mutation Facial Abnormality Hydrolytic Deamination
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