Chapter 5. The Importance of DNA Methylation in the Body

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Deniz Karakçı
Department of Biochemistry, University of Tekirdag Namik Kemal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Tekirdag, Turkey

Part of the book: Advances in Health and Disease. Volume 63

Abstract

Methylation is the addition of a methyl group (CH3) to a chemical compound. This process, which is a chemical reaction, takes place in the systems that occur in the body. When a molecule goes through the process of methylation, then the molecule is ‘methylated.’ Biochemical molecules such as genes, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and vitamins are suitable for methylation. DNA and RNA synthesis and repairing, metabolism of neurotransmitters, proper functioning of the immune system, gene regulation, epigenetic mechanisms are some of the duties of methylation. Methylation, which regulates epigenetic events such as gene activation, repression and chromatin remodeling, and gene expression, occurs in two ways that are protein (histone) methylation and DNA methylation. Protein methylation occurs by adding a methyl group to the arginine and lysine amino acids. On the other hand, DNA methylation materializes when a methyl group is attached to the CpG sites in vertebrates with the DNA methyltransferase enzyme. Methylation reactions in the body may be impaired due to some reasons. To understand this degradation, it is necessary to give information about the MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) enzyme, which is an important part of the methylation process. The MTHFR is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folate to constitute the methyl folate form, also known as 5-MTHF, that the body can use. If there is a small mutation called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene with the same name as MTHFR enzyme, the function of this enzyme may slowdown. The MTHFR gene mutation is among the important factors that will negatively affect the methylation cycle. High homocysteine levels and low concentrations of folate and some other vitamins in the blood can lead to this genetic mutation. This gene mutation can be detected with tests. Gene mutations can pose a health risk in individuals who have bad living habits, such as stress, malnutrition, alcohol and drugs. This can cause inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, insulin resistance, paralysis, anxiety, depression, and digestive disorders. Those with MTHFR mutations need to change certain lifestyle choices that can increase homocysteine levels as a preventative measure. People with MTHFR mutations may avoid foods that contain folate, the synthetic form of folic acid, although the evidence is not clear what is necessary or helpful. Quality nutrition, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits will improve the general condition.

Keywords: methylation, MTHFR, epigenetic, gene


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