Graf U. et al.
Naive pluripotency is established in preimplantation epiblast. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) represent the immortalization of naive pluripotency. 2i culture has optimized this state, leading to a gene signature and DNA hypomethylation closely comparable to preimplantation epiblast, the developmental ground state. Here we show that Pramel7 (PRAME-like 7), a protein highly expressed in the inner cell mass (ICM) but expressed at low levels in ESCs, targets for proteasomal degradation UHRF1, a key factor for DNA methylation maintenance. Increasing Pramel7 expression in serum-cultured ESCs promotes a preimplantation epiblast-like gene signature, reduces UHRF1 levels and causes global DNA hypomethylation. Pramel7 is required for blastocyst formation and its forced expression locks ESCs in pluripotency. Pramel7/UHRF1 expression is mutually exclusive in ICMs whereas Pramel7-knockout embryos express high levels of UHRF1. Our data reveal an as-yet-unappreciated dynamic nature of DNA methylation through proteasome pathways and offer insights that might help to improve ESC culture to reproduce in vitro the in vivo ground-state pluripotency.