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In contrast to central nervous system neurons, dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons can switch to a regenerative state after peripheral axotomy. In a screen for chromatin regulators of the regenerative responses in this conditioning lesion paradigm, we identified Tet methylcytosine dioxygenase 3 (Tet3) as upregulated in DRG neurons, along with increased 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). We generated genome-wide 5hmC maps in adult DRG, which revealed that peripheral and central axotomy (leading to no regenerative effect) triggered differential 5hmC changes that are associated with distinct signaling pathways. 5hmC was altered in a large set of regeneration-associated genes (RAGs), including well-known RAGs, such as Atf3, Bdnf, and Smad1, that regulate axon growth potential of DRG neurons, thus supporting its role for RAG regulation. Our analyses also predicted HIF-1, STAT, and IRF as potential transcription factors that may collaborate with Tet3 for 5hmC modifications. Intriguingly, central axotomy resulted in widespread 5hmC modifications that had little overlap with those of peripheral axotomy, thus potentially constituting a roadblock for regeneration. Our study revealed 5hmC dynamics as a previously unrecognized epigenetic mechanism underlying the divergent responses after axonal injury.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





77 - 92


5hmC, DNA methylation, DRG, Tet, axon injury, axon regeneration, conditioning lesion, epigenetics, regeneration-associated genes (RAG), 5-Methylcytosine, Activating Transcription Factor 3, Animals, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, DNA Methylation, Epigenesis, Genetic, Female, Ganglia, Spinal, Mice, Nerve Regeneration, Neuronal Outgrowth, Neurons, Smad1 Protein