Report

Tet Proteins Can Convert 5-Methylcytosine to 5-Formylcytosine and 5-Carboxylcytosine

Science  21 Jul 2011:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1210597

Abstract

5-methylcytosine (5mC) in DNA plays an important role in gene expression, genomic imprinting, and suppression of transposable elements. 5mC can be converted to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) by the Tet proteins. Here, we show that, in addition to 5hmC, the Tet proteins can generate 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) from 5mC in an enzymatic activity–dependent manner. Furthermore, we reveal the presence of 5fC and 5caC in genomic DNA of mouse ES cells and mouse organs. The genomic content of 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC can be increased or reduced through overexpression or depletion of Tet proteins. Thus, we identify two previously unknown cytosine derivatives in genomic DNA as the products of Tet proteins. Our study raises the possibility that DNA demethylation may occur through Tet-catalyzed oxidation followed by decarboxylation.

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