Methyl groups are methane-derived alkyl molecules made of a single carbon atom bound to three hydrogen atoms. Methyl groups are commonly oxidized and de-methylated across a wide range of biological reactions in nature.
Methyl groups help catalyze a vast range of reactions from DNA methylation via the methyl-donor s-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) to unclear roles in processes like cognitive development during gestation (1).
The broad biochemical use of methylation has been widely conserved on an evolutionary scale illustrating how integral it is to life on our planet, human life included (2).
- Ryan, D., Henzel, K., Pearson, B. et al. A paternal methyl donor-rich diet altered cognitive and neural functions in offspring mice. Mol Psychiatry 23, 1345–1355 (2018). doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.53
- Colwell, Mathia et al. “Evolutionary conservation of DNA methylation in CpG sites within ultraconserved noncoding elements.” Epigenetics vol. 13,1 (2018): 49-60. doi:10.1080/15592294.2017.1411447