Gender-specific postnatal demethylation and establishment of epigenetic memory

Yitzhak Reizel, Adam Spiro, Ofra Sabag, Yael Skversky, Merav Hecht, Ilana Keshet, Benjamin P. Berman, Howard Cedar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


DNA methylation patterns are set up in a relatively fixed programmed manner during normal embryonic development and are then stably maintained. Using genome-wide analysis, we discovered a postnatal pathway involving gender-specific demethylation that occurs exclusively in the male liver. This demodification is programmed to take place at tissue-specific enhancer sequences, and our data show that the methylation state at these loci is associated with and appears to play a role in the transcriptional regulation of nearby genes. This process is mediated by the secretion of testosterone at the time of sexual maturity, but the resulting methylation profile is stable and therefore can serve as an epigenetic memory even in the absence of this inducer. These findings add a new dimension to our understanding of the role ofDNAmethylation in vivo and provide the foundations for deciphering how environment can impact on the epigenetic regulation of genes in general.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)923-933
Number of pages11
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Reizel et al


  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetic memory
  • Gender-specific genes
  • Gene expression
  • Liver


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