Real-time dynamics of methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 3 and its role in DNA demethylation by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy

Yi Cui, Il Hoon Cho, Basudev Chowdhury, Joseph Irudayaraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With unprecedented development in technology, epigenetics is recognized as a substantial and flexible regulatory pathway for phenotyping. Cytosine methylation and its subsequent oxidization have attracted significant attention due to their direct impact on gene regulation, in association with methyl-CpG-binding domain proteins (MBDs) and transcription related factors. In this study we record the dynamics of DNA demethylation using the recombinant MBD3- GFP protein in living cells under hypoxia and Decitabine treatment using Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) by monitoring the diffusion dynamics of MBD3. Our study shows a DNA-replication-independent decrease of 5-methylcytosine (5mC)/5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) under hypoxia vs. a dependent decrease under Decitabine treatment. Further, we define a significantly faster diffusion of MBD3 in the nucleus as a precursory event for active demethylation rather than the Decitabine induced passive demethylation. By monitoring the diffusion of bound and unbound MBD3 in the nucleus we were able to identify and characterize hypoxia-sensitive cells from insensitive/tolerant cells, as well as the respective contribution to active demethylation in a time-dependent manner. Last, we quantitatively describe the concurrent decreasing trend in all of the three oxidized products of 5mC, which points to the potential involvement of ten-eleven-translocation proteins (TETs) in hypoxia induced active demethylation. Overall, for the first time we correlate the dynamic process of DNA demethylation with the biophysical properties of the corresponding DNA binding proteins in live single cells by single molecule spectroscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1100
Number of pages12
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biophysics
  • DNA demethylation
  • Dynamics
  • Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS)
  • Methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 3 (MBD3)
  • Nuclear protein
  • Ten-eleven-translocation proteins (TETs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Real-time dynamics of methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 3 and its role in DNA demethylation by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this