Loss of Tet enzymes compromises proper differentiation of embryonic stem cells

Dev Cell. 2014 Apr 14;29(1):102-11. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.03.003.


Tet enzymes (Tet1/2/3) convert 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and are dynamically expressed during development. Whereas loss of individual Tet enzymes or combined deficiency of Tet1/2 allows for embryogenesis, the effect of complete loss of Tet activity and 5hmC marks in development is not established. We have generated Tet1/2/3 triple-knockout (TKO) mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and examined their developmental potential. Combined deficiency of all three Tets depleted 5hmC and impaired ESC differentiation, as seen in poorly differentiated TKO embryoid bodies (EBs) and teratomas. Consistent with impaired differentiation, TKO ESCs contributed poorly to chimeric embryos, a defect rescued by Tet1 reexpression, and could not support embryonic development. Global gene-expression and methylome analyses of TKO EBs revealed promoter hypermethylation and deregulation of genes implicated in embryonic development and differentiation. These findings suggest a requirement for Tet- and 5hmC-mediated DNA demethylation in proper regulation of gene expression during ESC differentiation and development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dioxygenases
  • Embryoid Bodies / cytology*
  • Embryoid Bodies / enzymology
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Mice
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • TET1 protein, mouse
  • Tet2 protein, mouse
  • Dioxygenases
  • Tet3 protein, mouse

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE55049
  • GEO/GSE55574