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Mammalian DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferases (DNMT) have roles in the establishment and regulation of the transcriptome by methylating DNA. DNMTs are attractive cancer therapy targets with numerous clinical trials ongoing. Dnmt1 plays a role in the establishment and regulation of tissue-specific patterns of methylated cytosine residues. In the context of embryonic development, imprinting, and X-chromosome inactivation, Dnmt3A and 3B are thought to function in de novo methylation, rather than maintenance methylation. Researchers are exploring the expression levels of these DNMTs and their resulting tissue-specific methylation patterns as possible biomarkers for various cancers and developmental abnormalities.

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