Innate lymphocytes encompass a diverse array of phenotypic identities with specialized functions. DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation are essential for epigenetic fidelity and fate commitment. The landscapes of these modifications are unknown in innate lymphocytes. Here, we characterized the whole-genome distribution of methyl-CpG and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in mouse innate lymphoid cell 3 (ILC3), ILC2 and natural killer (NK) cells. We identified differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and differentially hydroxymethylated regions (DHMRs) between ILC and NK cell subsets and correlated them with transcriptional signatures. We associated lineage-determining transcription factors (LDTFs) with demethylation and demonstrated unique patterns of DNA methylation/hydroxymethylation in relationship to open chromatin regions (OCRs), histone modifications and TF-binding sites. We further identified an association between hydroxymethylation and NK cell superenhancers (SEs). Using mice lacking the DNA hydroxymethylase TET2, we showed the requirement for TET2 in optimal production of hallmark cytokines by ILC3s and interleukin-17A (IL-17A) by inflammatory ILC2s. These findings provide a powerful resource for studying innate lymphocyte epigenetic regulation and decode the regulatory logic governing their identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-631
Number of pages13
JournalNature immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


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