Tessier S. et al.
Membrane-less organelles are condensates formed by phase separation whose functions often remain enigmatic. Upon oxidative stress, PML scaffolds Nuclear Bodies (NBs) to regulate senescence or metabolic adaptation. PML NBs recruit many partner proteins, but the actual biochemical mechanism underlying their pleiotropic functions remains elusive. Similarly, PML role in embryonic stem cell (ESC) and retro-element biology is unsettled. Here we demonstrate that PML is essential for oxidative stress-driven partner SUMO2/3 conjugation in mouse ESCs (mESCs) or leukemia, a process often followed by their poly-ubiquitination and degradation. Functionally, PML is required for stress responses in mESCs. Differential proteomics unravel the KAP1 complex as a PML NB-dependent SUMO2-target in arsenic-treated APL mice or mESCs. PML-driven KAP1 sumoylation enables activation of this key epigenetic repressor implicated in retro-element silencing. Accordingly, Pml mESCs re-express transposable elements and display 2-Cell-Like features, the latter enforced by PML-controlled SUMO2-conjugation of DPPA2. Thus, PML orchestrates mESC state by coordinating SUMO2-conjugation of different transcriptional regulators, raising new hypotheses about PML roles in cancer.