Song CX, Szulwach KE, Fu Y, Dai Q, Yi C, Li X, Li Y, Chen CH, Zhang W, Jian X, Wang J, Zhang L, Looney TJ, Zhang B, Godley LA, Hicks LM, Lahn BT, Jin P, He C
In contrast to 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), which has been studied extensively, little is known about 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC), a recently identified epigenetic modification present in substantial amounts in certain mammalian cell types. Here we present a method for determining the genome-wide distribution of 5-hmC. We use the T4 bacteriophage β-glucosyltransferase to transfer an engineered glucose moiety containing an azide group onto the hydroxyl group of 5-hmC. The azide group can be chemically modified with biotin for detection, affinity enrichment and sequencing of 5-hmC-containing DNA fragments in mammalian genomes. Using this method, we demonstrate that 5-hmC is present in human cell lines beyond those previously recognized. We also find a gene expression level-dependent enrichment of intragenic 5-hmC in mouse cerebellum and an age-dependent acquisition of this modification in specific gene bodies linked to neurodegenerative disorders.