Cell Biophysics

, Volume 15, Issue 1–2, pp 1–13 | Cite as

DNA methylation and cell memory

  • Arthur D. Riggs


In this paper we address the question: How do replicating mammalian cells remember with high fidelity their proper state of differentiation? Several possible mechanisms for cell memory are discussed, and it is concluded that only mechanisms involving DNA methylation are supported by strong experimental evidence. This evidence is reviewed. The establishment and modulation of methylation patterns are discussed and a hemimethylation model for stem cells is presented. The overall conclusion is that, although little is yet known about the details, there should be little doubt about the existence of a methylation system functioning at least to aid cell memory.

Index Entries

DNA methylation DNA modification 5-methylcytosine X chromosome inactivation cell memory gene regulation differentiation hemimethylation 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur D. Riggs
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology Division, Beckman Research Institute of the City of HopeCity of Hope Medical CenterDuarte

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