Aloia L, McKie MA, Vernaz G, Cordero-Espinoza L, Aleksieva N, van den Ameele J, Antonica F, Font-Cunill B, Raven A, Aiese Cigliano R, Belenguer G, Mort RL, Brand AH, Zernicka-Goetz M, Forbes SJ, Miska EA, Huch M
Following severe or chronic liver injury, adult ductal cells (cholangiocytes) contribute to regeneration by restoring both hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. We recently showed that ductal cells clonally expand as self-renewing liver organoids that retain their differentiation capacity into both hepatocytes and ductal cells. However, the molecular mechanisms by which adult ductal-committed cells acquire cellular plasticity, initiate organoids and regenerate the damaged tissue remain largely unknown. Here, we describe that ductal cells undergo a transient, genome-wide, remodelling of their transcriptome and epigenome during organoid initiation and in vivo following tissue damage. TET1-mediated hydroxymethylation licences differentiated ductal cells to initiate organoids and activate the regenerative programme through the transcriptional regulation of stem-cell genes and regenerative pathways including the YAP-Hippo signalling. Our results argue in favour of the remodelling of genomic methylome/hydroxymethylome landscapes as a general mechanism by which differentiated cells exit a committed state in response to tissue damage.