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Nascent DNA methylome mapping reveals inheritance of hemimethylation at CTCF/cohesin sites

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Science  09 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1166-1170
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5480

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Hemimethylation drives chromatin assembly

Cytosine DNA methylation is a heritable and essential epigenetic mark. During DNA replication, cytosines on mother strands remain methylated, but those on daughter strands are initially unmethylated. These hemimethylated sites are rapidly methylated to maintain faithful methylation patterns. Xu and Corces mapped genome-wide strand-specific DNA methylation sites on nascent chromatin, confirming such maintenance in the vast majority of the DNA methylome (see the Perspective by Sharif and Koseki). However, they also identified a small fraction of sites that were stably hemimethylated and showed their inheritance at CTCF (CCCTC-binding factor)/cohesin binding sites. These inherited hemimethylation sites were required for CTCF and cohesin to establish proper chromatin interactions.

Science, this issue p. 1166; see also p. 1102

Abstract

The faithful inheritance of the epigenome is critical for cells to maintain gene expression programs and cellular identity across cell divisions. We mapped strand-specific DNA methylation after replication forks and show maintenance of the vast majority of the DNA methylome within 20 minutes of replication and inheritance of some hemimethylated CpG dinucleotides (hemiCpGs). Mapping the nascent DNA methylome targeted by each of the three DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) reveals interactions between DNMTs and substrate daughter cytosines en route to maintenance methylation or hemimethylation. Finally, we show the inheritance of hemiCpGs at short regions flanking CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF)/cohesin binding sites in pluripotent cells. Elimination of hemimethylation causes reduced frequency of chromatin interactions emanating from these sites, suggesting a role for hemimethylation as a stable epigenetic mark regulating CTCF-mediated chromatin interactions.

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