After 10 years in the making, Johanna Klughammer and the Bock Lab at CeMM present a comparative analysis of DNA methylation profiles across 580 animal species. This allows the evolution of epigenetics to be traced in detail for the first time. Until now, it was assumed that DNA methylation in mammals follows specific rules that make the diversity of cell types in the body possible in the first place. The new study in the journal Nature Communications now shows that these epigenetic patterns are ancient and arose long before mammals. DNA methylation in starfish and fish already follows a similar "code" as in orangutans or humans. This epigenetic code may even protect against cancer - as indicated by the patterns of DNA methylation in birds, which rarely develop cancer.
Comparative analysis of genome-scale, base-resolution DNA methylation profiles across 580 animal species
Klughammer K*#, Romanovskaia D*, Nemc A, Posautz A, Seid C, Schuster LC, Keinath MC, Sebastian J, Ramos L, Kosack L, Evankow A, Prinz D, Kirchberger S, Ergüner B, Datlinger P, Fortelny N, Schmidl C, Farlik M, Skjærven K, Bergthaler A, Liedvogel M, Thaller D, Burger PA, Hermann M, Distel M, Distel DL, Kübber-Heiss A, Bock C#
Nat Commun. 14, 232 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-34828-y