Cytosine hydroxymethylation was recently discovered as an important epigenetic mechanism. This cytosine base modification results from the enzymatic conversion of 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) by the TET family of oxygenases. Though the precise role of 5-hmC is the subject of intense research and debate, early studies strongly indicate that it is also involved in gene regulation and in numerous important biological processes including embryonic development, cellular differentiation, stem cell reprogramming and carcinogenesis.
The study of 5-hmC has long been limited due to the lack of high quality, validated tools and technologies that discriminate hydroxymethylation from methylation in regulating gene expression. The use of highly specific antibodies against 5-hmC for the immunoprecipitation of hydroxymethylated DNA offers a reliable solution for hydroxymethylation profiling.