DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation of cytosine are not the same, and yet for many years, researchers have been unable to tell the difference. In fact, says Gary Hon from the University of California, San Diego's Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, though researchers know that hydroxymethyl-ation of cytosine affects embryonic stem cell differentiation and plays a role in leukemia, they are still unsure of the mechanisms by which it works. "While we do know that 5-hydroxymethylation exists, we don't really know what it does," Hon says.

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