PerspectiveMolecular Biology

Phylogeny of Methylomes

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Science  14 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5980, pp. 837-838
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190738

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The DNA of most species is methylated, containing the modified base 5-methylcytosine. This modification has a role in silencing gene expression, among other important functions (1, 2). Advances in sequencing methods have allowed measurement of the first complete genome-wide DNA methylation map (“methylome”) of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and human cells (35). Studies by Feng et al. (6) and by Zemach et al. on page 916 of this issue (7) now expand this list by providing genome-wide methylomes for 20 additional species, revealing important conserved features and phylogenetic relationships of the methylation machinery.