Cell Rep 2016 Feb 28;14(5):1246-1257. Epub 2016 Jan 28.
Structural Biology and BioComputing Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Center - CNIO, Melchor Fernandez Almagro 3, 28029 Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:
Epigenetic communication through histone and cytosine modifications is essential for gene regulation and cell identity. Here, we propose a framework that is based on a chromatin communication model to get insight on the function of epigenetic modifications in ESCs. The epigenetic communication network was inferred from genome-wide location data plus extensive manual annotation. Notably, we found that 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) is the most-influential hub of this network, connecting DNA demethylation to nucleosome remodeling complexes and to key transcription factors of pluripotency. Moreover, an evolutionary analysis revealed a central role of 5hmC in the co-evolution of chromatin-related proteins. Further analysis of regions where 5hmC co-localizes with specific interactors shows that each interaction points to chromatin remodeling, stemness, differentiation, or metabolism. Our results highlight the importance of cytosine modifications in the epigenetic communication of ESCs.