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Ludwig, Anne K.; Zhang, Peng; Hastert, Florian D.; Meyer, Stephanie; Rausch, Cathia; Herce, Henry D.; Müller, Udo; Lehmkuhl, Anne; Hellmann, Ines; Trummer, Carina; Storm, Christian; Leonhardt, Heinrich and Cardoso, M. Cristina (2017): Binding of MBD proteins to DNA blocks Tet1 function thereby modulating transcriptional noise. In: Nucleic Acids Research, Vol. 45, No. 5: pp. 2438-2457

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Aberrant DNA methylation is a hallmark of various human disorders, indicating that the spatial and temporal regulation of methylation readers and modifiers is imperative for development and differentiation. In particular, the cross-regulation between 5-methylcytosine binders (MBD) and modifiers (Tet) has not been investigated. Here, we show that binding of Mecp2 and Mbd2 to DNA protects 5-methylcytosine fromTet1-mediated oxidation. The mechanism is not based on competition for 5methylcytosine binding but on Mecp2 and Mbd2 directly restricting Tet1 access to DNA. We demonstrate that the efficiency of this process depends on the number of bound MBDs per DNA molecule. Accordingly, we find 5-hydroxymethylcytosine enriched at heterochromatin of Mecp2-deficient neurons of a mousemodel for Rett syndrome and Tet1-induced reexpression of silenced major satellite repeats. These data unveil fundamental regulatory mechanisms of Tet enzymes and their potential pathophysiological role in Rett syndrome. Importantly, it suggests that Mecp2 and Mbd2 have an essential physiological role as guardians of the epigenome.

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