Research ArticleGENETICS

Reprogramming of DNA methylation at NEUROD2-bound sequences during cortical neuron differentiation

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Science Advances  23 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaax0080
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0080


The characteristics of DNA methylation changes that occur during neurogenesis in vivo remain unknown. We used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to quantitate DNA cytosine modifications in differentiating neurons and their progenitors isolated from mouse brain at the peak of embryonic neurogenesis. Localized DNA hypomethylation was much more common than hypermethylation and often occurred at putative enhancers within genes that were upregulated in neurons and encoded proteins crucial for neuronal differentiation. The hypomethylated regions strongly overlapped with mapped binding sites of the key neuronal transcription factor NEUROD2. The 5-methylcytosine oxidase ten-eleven translocation 2 (TET2) interacted with NEUROD2, and its reaction product 5-hydroxymethylcytosine accumulated at the demethylated regions. NEUROD2-targeted differentially methylated regions retained higher methylation levels in Neurod2 knockout mice, and inducible expression of NEUROD2 caused TET2-associated demethylation at its in vivo binding sites. The data suggest that the reorganization of DNA methylation in developing neurons involves NEUROD2 and TET2-mediated DNA demethylation.

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