Ten-eleven translocation (TET) family enzymes (TET1, TET2, and TET3) oxidize 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and generate 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) marks on the genome. Each TET protein also interacts with specific binding partners and partly plays their role independent of catalytic activity. Although the basic role of TET enzymes is well established now, the molecular mechanism and specific contribution of their catalytic and noncatalytic domains remain elusive. Here, by combining in silico and biochemical screening strategy, we have identified a small molecule compound, C35, as a first-in-class TET inhibitor that specifically blocks their catalytic activities. Using this inhibitor, we explored the enzymatic function of TET proteins during somatic cell reprogramming. Interestingly, we found that C35-mediated TET inactivation increased the efficiency of somatic cell programming without affecting TET complexes. Using high-throughput mRNA sequencing, we found that by targeting 5hmC repressive marks in the promoter regions, C35-mediated TET inhibition activates the transcription of the BMP-SMAD-ID signaling pathway, which may be responsible for promoting somatic cell reprogramming. These results suggest that C35 is an important tool for inducing somatic cell reprogramming, as well as for dissecting the other biological functions of TET enzymatic activities without affecting their other nonenzymatic roles.
Keywords: 5hmC; TET enzymes; epigenetic reprogramming; somatic reprogramming.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no competing interest.
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