5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in E-box motifs ACAT|GTG and ACAC|GTG increases DNA-binding of the B-HLH transcription factor TCF4†
We evaluated DNA binding of the B-HLH family members TCF4 and USF1 using protein binding microarrays (PBMs) containing double-stranded DNA probes with cytosine on both strands or 5-methylcytosine (5mC) or 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) on one DNA strand and cytosine on the second strand. TCF4 preferentially bound the E-box motif (CAN|NTG) with strongest binding to the 8-mer CAG|GTGGT. 5mC uniformly decreases DNA binding of both TCF4 and USF1. The bulkier 5hmC also inhibited USF1 binding to DNA. In contrast, 5hmC dramatically enhanced TCF4 binding to E-box motifs ACAT|GTG and ACAC|GTG, being better bound than any 8-mer containing cytosine. Examination of X-ray structures of the closely related TCF3 and USF1 bound to DNA suggests TCF3 can undergo a conformational shift to preferentially bind to 5hmC while the USF1 basic region is bulkier and rigid precluding a conformation shift to bind 5hmC. These results greatly expand the regulatory DNA sequence landscape bound by TCF4.