DNA methylation


: the enzymatically controlled addition of a methyl group to a nucleotide base (such as cytosine in eukaryotes) in a molecule of DNA that plays a role in regulating gene expression (as by the inhibition of genetic transcription)
When a methyl group attaches to a specific spot on a gene—a process called DNA methylation—it can change the gene's expression, turning it off or on, dampening it or making it louder.John Cloud
A handful of drugs that affect DNA methylation already exist, and are being used to treat cancers in which faulty gene labeling plays a role.Helen Pilcher
A process called DNA methylation sets down "marks" on bits of DNA and is typically thought to squelch gene expression.Sarah Baldauf
DNA methylation is a mark on genomic DNA made by addition of methyl groups to cytosine bases …Adrian Bird

Examples of DNA methylation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Between the two groups of animals, consistent variations in DNA methylation–a process where methyl groups bind to regions of the genome within a cell, and silence certain genes–are detectable. Lauren Leffer, Popular Science, 28 Mar. 2024 The plan is to enroll 1,500 firefighters in the study who will donate blood or plasma for a year, monitoring for DNA methylation cancer biomarkers. Patricia Kime, Hannah Norman, Kff Health News, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Sep. 2023 The study, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, builds on an emerging body of research that links faster biological aging, measured by a process called DNA methylation (DNAm), to low socioeconomic status — a phrase that encompasses education, income, and wealth. Ambar Castillo, STAT, 5 July 2023 Known as DNA methylation, this process adds molecules to DNA that can affect a person’s health risks. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 May 2023 Using DNA methylation clocks to study biomarkers of aging, researchers measured changes in biological age in humans and mice in response to various stressful stimuli, including surgically attaching pairs of mice that were three months old and 20 months old. L'oreal Thompson Payton, Fortune Well, 21 Apr. 2023 Like other epigenetic aging tests on the market, Tally Health looks at patterns in DNA methylation—the chemical tags on DNA code that affect the activity of genes. Emily Mullin, WIRED, 2 Mar. 2023 These barcodes are a result of DNA methylation, naturally existing modifications to the surface of DNA that vary for each type of tissue in the body. Colin Pritchard Professor, Discover Magazine, 22 Nov. 2022 Our team also examined DNA methylation patterns that reflect exposure to certain environmental or lifestyle factors (such as smoking or high body mass index), or biological processes (such as aging). Jan Veldink, The Conversation, 13 Apr. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'DNA methylation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of DNA methylation was in 1963

Dictionary Entries Near DNA methylation

Cite this Entry

“DNA methylation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/DNA%20methylation. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Medical Definition

DNA methylation

: the enzymatically controlled methylation of a nucleotide base (as cytosine in eukaryotes) in a molecule of DNA that plays a role in suppressing gene expression
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