The acquisition of cell identity is associated with developmentally regulated changes in the cellular histone methylation signatures. For instance, commitment to neural differentiation relies on the tightly controlled gain or loss of H3K27me3, a hallmark of polycomb-mediated transcriptional gene silencing, at specific gene sets. The KDM6B demethylase, which removes H3K27me3 marks at defined promoters and enhancers, is a key factor in neurogenesis. Therefore, to better understand the epigenetic regulation of neural fate acquisition, it is important to determine how Kdm6b expression is regulated. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in the induction of Kdm6b expression upon neural commitment of mouse embryonic stem cells. We found that the increase in Kdm6b expression is linked to a rearrangement between two 3D configurations defined by the promoter contact with two different regions in the Kdm6b locus. This is associated with changes in 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) levels at these two regions, and requires a functional ten-eleven-translocation (TET) 3 protein. Altogether, our data support a model whereby Kdm6b induction upon neural commitment relies on an intronic enhancer the activity of which is defined by its TET3-mediated 5-hmC level. This original observation reveals an unexpected interplay between the 5-hmC and H3K27me3 pathways during neural lineage commitment in mammals. It also questions to which extent KDM6B-mediated changes in H3K27me3 level account for the TET-mediated effects on gene expression.
Keywords: 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine; Enhancer; H3K27me3; Kdm6b; Neural stem cells; Neurogenesis; Tet3.