DNA methylation is closely involved in the regulation of cellular differentiation, including chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. Recent studies showed that Ten-eleven translocation (TET) family proteins converted 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, 5-formylcytosine and 5carboxylcytosine by oxidation. These reactions constitute potential mechanisms for active demethylation of methylated DNA. However, the relationship between the DNA methylation patterns and the effects of TET family proteins in chondrocyte differentiation is still unclear. In this study, we showed that DNA hydroxylation of 5mC was increased during chondrocytic differentiation of C3H10T1/2 cells and that the expression of Tet1 was particularly enhanced. Moreover, knockdown experiments revealed that the downregulation of Tet1 expression caused decreases in chondrogenesis markers such as type 2 and type 10 collagens. Furthermore, we found that TET proteins had a site preference for hydroxylation of 5mC on the Insulin-like growth factor 1 (Igf1) promoter in chondrocytes. Taken together, we showed that the expression of Tet1 was specifically facilitated in chondrocyte differentiation and Tet1 can regulate chondrocyte marker gene expression presumably through its hydroxylation activity for DNA.
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