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Template:Chembox new 5-Methylcytosine is a methylated form of cytosine in which a methyl group is attached to carbon 5, altering its structure without altering its base-pairing properties.

In vivo

5-Methylcytosine is an epigenetic modification formed by the action of DNA methyltransferases. Its function varies significantly among species:[1]

  • In bacteria, 5-methylcytosine can be found at a variety of sites, and is often used as a marker to protect DNA from being cut by native methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes.
  • In plants, 5-methylcytosine occurs at both CpG and CpNpG sequences.
  • In fungi and animals, 5-methylcytosine predominantly occurs at CpG dinucleotides. Although most eukaryotes methylate only a small percentage of these sites, in vertebrates 70-80% of CpG cytosines are methylated.

While spontaneous deamination of cytosine forms uracil, which is recognized and removed by DNA repair enzymes, deamination of 5-methylcytosine forms thymine. This conversion of a DNA base from cytosine (C) to thymine (T) can result in a transition mutation.

In vitro

5-Methylcytosine can be deaminated to form thymine with use of reagents such as nitrous acid; cytosine deaminates to uracil under similar conditions.

5-Methylcytosine is resistant to deamination by bisulfite treatment, which deaminates cytosine residues; this property is often exploited to analyze DNA cytosine methylation patterns with bisulfite sequencing.[2]

Additional images


  1. Colot V, Rossignol JL (1999). "Eukaryotic DNA methylation as an evolutionary device". Bioessays. 21 (5): 402–11. PMID 10376011.
  2. Clark SJ, Harrison J, Paul CL, Frommer M (1994). "High sensitivity mapping of methylated cytosines". Nucleic Acids Res. 22 (15): 2990–7. PMID 8065911.

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