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We often focus our attention on Methylation and not really Demethylation.  What is the difference?

Methylation is the ‘switching off’ of genes.  Demethylation is more like the ‘clean up crew’ that sanitizes DNA methylation imprints for the next generation.

 

The whole process of Demethylation is involved in genomic imprinting during embryonic development as well as the function of many other enzymes and ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) within the body.  But also in epigenetic expression and wiping out the epigenetic memory of DNA in certain cells so that they can be reprogrammed which is very important during embryonic development.

TET (Ten-eleven Translocation) enzymes are involved in demethylation and require nutrients to function which include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A

 

Demethylating nutrients are being used in cancer therapy  due to the fact that there is DNA hypermethylation occurring within cancer cells.

However, cancer is a condition that involves the processes of both hyper- and hypo-methylation.

You can read more about this in the article below that I wrote for ATP Science.

 

Demethylation and Erasing Epigentic Marks on our DNA

 

References:

https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(13)00368-8