Background: The study of epigenetic regulation has made substantial progress in recent
years. The AlkB family in E. coli was identified as a type of DNA repair enzyme that removes alkyl
adducts from nucleobases. Recently, nine mammalian homologs, ALKBH1-9, have been successfully
identified and defined as diverse demethylases. ALKBH1, ALKBH5, ALKBH8 and ALKBH9 act as
RNA demethylases, while ALKBH2-3 and ALKBH7 correct methyl and etheno adducts in DNA.
Moreover, ALKBH4 focuses primarily on actin. Disorders of AlkB family level in mammals induce
many types of diseases.
Objective: In this review, we will elaborate on the structure and biological function of the members of
the AlkB family. We will also focus on the latest progress of the research on the mammalian AlkB
family, particularly on new breakthroughs, and present the relevant disorders or diseases induced by
an abnormal level of the AlkB family.
Conclusion: The AlkB family plays a crucial role in embryogenesis and differentiation. The aberrant
level of the AlkB family leads to many types of diseases. The members of the AlkB family may serve
as potential cancer markers and possible therapeutic targets in the future.