The role of DNA methylation, nucleosome occupancy and histone modifications in paramutation

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:Haring, M, Bader, R, Louwers, M, Schwabe, A, van Driel, R, Stam, M
Journal:The Plant Journal
Date Published:2010
ISBN Number:1365-313X
Keywords:chromatin structure, DNA methylation, histone modifications, maize, nucleosome occupancy, paramutation

Paramutation is the transfer of epigenetic information between alleles that leads to a heritable change in expression of one of these alleles. Paramutation at the tissue-specifically expressed maize (Zea mays) b1 locus involves the low-expressing B′ and high-expressing B-I allele. Combined in the same nucleus, B′ heritably changes B-I into B′. A hepta-repeat located 100-kb upstream of the b1 coding region is required for paramutation and for high b1 expression. The role of epigenetic modifications in paramutation is currently not well understood. In this study, we show that the B′ hepta-repeat is DNA-hypermethylated in all tissues analyzed. Importantly, combining B′ and B-I in one nucleus results in de novo methylation of the B-I repeats early in plant development. These findings indicate a role for hepta-repeat DNA methylation in the establishment and maintenance of the silenced B′ state. In contrast, nucleosome occupancy, H3 acetylation, and H3K9 and H3K27 methylation are mainly involved in tissue-specific regulation of the hepta-repeat. Nucleosome depletion and H3 acetylation are tissue-specifically regulated at the B-I hepta-repeat and associated with enhancement of b1 expression. H3K9 and H3K27 methylation are tissue-specifically localized at the B′ hepta-repeat and reinforce the silenced B′ chromatin state. The B′ coding region is H3K27 dimethylated in all tissues analyzed, indicating a role in the maintenance of the silenced B′ state. Taken together, these findings provide insight into the mechanisms underlying paramutation and tissue-specific regulation of b1 at the level of chromatin structure.

Short Title:The Plant Journal
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