PMID: 32051560
Zhang M, Yang S, Nelakanti R, Zhao W, Liu G, Li Z, Liu X, Wu T, Xiao A, Li H
Mammalian ALKBH1 serves as an N(6)-mA demethylase of unpairing DNA.
Cell Res. 2020 Mar;30(3):197-210. doi: 10.1038/s41422-019-0237-5. Epub 2020 Feb, 12.
N(6)-methyladenine (N(6)-mA) of DNA is an emerging epigenetic mark in mammalian genome. Levels of N(6)-mA undergo drastic fluctuation during early embryogenesis, indicative of active regulation. Here we show that the 2-oxoglutarate-dependent oxygenase ALKBH1 functions as a nuclear eraser of N(6)-mA in unpairing regions (e.g., SIDD, Stress-Induced DNA Double Helix Destabilization regions) of mammalian genomes. Enzymatic profiling studies revealed that ALKBH1 prefers bubbled or bulged DNAs as substrate, instead of single-stranded (ss-) or double-stranded (ds-) DNAs. Structural studies of ALKBH1 revealed an unexpected "stretch-out" conformation of its "Flip1" motif, a conserved element that usually bends over catalytic center to facilitate substrate base flipping in other DNA demethylases. Thus, lack of a bending "Flip1" explains the observed preference of ALKBH1 for unpairing substrates, in which the flipped N(6)-mA is primed for catalysis. Co-crystal structural studies of ALKBH1 bound to a 21-mer bulged DNA explained the need of both flanking duplexes and a flipped base for recognition and catalysis. Key elements (e.g., an ALKBH1-specific alpha1 helix) as well as residues contributing to structural integrity and catalytic activity were validated by structure-based mutagenesis studies. Furthermore, ssDNA-seq and DIP-seq analyses revealed significant co-occurrence of base unpairing regions with N(6)-mA in mouse genome. Collectively, our biochemical, structural and genomic studies suggest that ALKBH1 is an important DNA demethylase that regulates genome N(6)-mA turnover of unpairing regions associated with dynamic chromosome regulation.