Metabolic control of methylation and acetylation

Xiaoyang Su, Kathryn E. Wellen, Joshua D. Rabinowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


Methylation and acetylation of DNA and histone proteins are the chemical basis for epigenetics. From bacteria to humans, methylation and acetylation are sensitive to cellular metabolic status. Modification rates depend on the availability of one-carbon and two-carbon substrates (S-adenosylmethionine, acetyl-CoA, and in bacteria also acetyl-phosphate). In addition, they are sensitive to demodification enzyme cofactors (α-ketoglutarate, NAD+) and structural analog metabolites that function as epigenetic enzyme inhibitors (e.g., S-adenosylhomocysteine, 2-hydroxyglutarate). Methylation and acetylation likely initially evolved to tailor protein activities in microbes to their metabolic milieu. While the extracellular environment of mammals is more tightly controlled, the combined impact of nutrient abundance and metabolic enzyme expression impacts epigenetics in mammals sufficiently to drive important biological outcomes such as stem cell fate and cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Chemical Biology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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