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Abstract BACKGROUND: The KZFP/KAP1 (KRAB zinc finger proteins/KRAB-associated protein 1) system plays a central role in repressing transposable elements (TEs) and maintaining parent-of-origin DNA methylation at imprinting control regions (ICRs) during the wave of genome-wide reprogramming that precedes implantation. In naïve murine embryonic stem cells (mESCs), the genome is maintained highly hypomethylated by a combination of TET-mediated active demethylation and lack of de novo methylation, yet KAP1 is tethered by sequence-specific KZFPs to ICRs and TEs where it recruits histone and DNA methyltransferases to impose heterochromatin formation and DNA methylation. RESULTS: Here, upon removing either KAP1 or the cognate KZFP, we observed rapid TET2-dependent accumulation of 5hmC at both ICRs and TEs. In the absence of the KZFP/KAP1 complex, ICRs lost heterochromatic histone marks and underwent both active and passive DNA demethylation. For KAP1-bound TEs, 5mC hydroxylation correlated with transcriptional reactivation. Using RNA-seq, we further compared the expression profiles of TEs upon Kap1 removal in wild-type, Dnmt and Tet triple knockout mESCs. While we found that KAP1 represents the main effector of TEs repression in all three settings, we could additionally identify specific groups of TEs further controlled by DNA methylation. Furthermore, we observed that in the absence of TET proteins, activation upon Kap1 depletion was blunted for some TE integrants and increased for others. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the KZFP/KAP1 complex maintains heterochromatin and DNA methylation at ICRs and TEs in naïve embryonic stem cells partly by protecting these loci from TET-mediated demethylation. Our study further unveils an unsuspected level of complexity in the transcriptional control of the endovirome by demonstrating often integrant-specific differential influences of histone-based heterochromatin modifications, DNA methylation and 5mC oxidation in regulating TEs expression.