De novo DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana is catalyzed by the methyltransferase DRM2, a homolog of the mammalian de novo methyltransferase DNMT3. DRM2 is targeted to DNA by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in a process known as RNA-directed DNA Methylation (RdDM). While several components of the RdDM pathway are known, a functional understanding of the underlying mechanism is far from complete. We employed both forward and reverse genetic approaches to identify factors involved in de novo methylation. We utilized the FWA transgene, which is methylated and silenced when transformed into wild-type plants, but unmethylated and expressed when transformed into de novo methylation mutants. Expression of FWA is marked by a late flowering phenotype, which is easily scored in mutant versus wild-type plants. By reverse genetics we discovered the requirement for known RdDM effectors AGO6 and NRPE5a for efficient de novo methylation. A forward genetic approach uncovered alleles of several components of the RdDM pathway, including alleles of clsy1, ktf1, and nrpd/e2, which have not been previously shown to be required for the initial establishment of DNA methylation. Mutations were mapped and genes cloned by both traditional and whole genome sequencing approaches. The methodologies and the mutant alleles discovered will be instrumental in further studies of de novo DNA methylation.
Histone demethylases-both lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) and Jumonji-C (JmjC) domain-containing proteins-are broadly implicated in the regulation of chromatin-dependent processes. In Arabidopsis thaliana, histone marks directly affect DNA methylation, and mutations in LSD1 homologues show reduced DNA methylation at some loci. We screened transfer DNA mutations in genes encoding JmjC domains for defects in DNA methylation. Mutations in jmj14 result in reduced DNA methylation in non-CG contexts at targets of DRM2 (domains rearranged methyltransferase 2)-mediated RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM), which is associated with an increase in H3K4m3. Unlike other components of RdDM, JMJ14 is not required for de novo methylation of a transgene, suggesting that JMJ14 is specifically involved in the maintenance phase of DRM2-mediated RdDM.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification associated with gene silencing. In Arabidopsis, DNA methylation is established by DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASE 2 (DRM2), which is targeted by small interfering RNAs through a pathway termed RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). Recently, RdDM was shown to require intergenic noncoding (IGN) transcripts that are dependent on the Pol V polymerase. These transcripts are proposed to function as scaffolds for the recruitment of downstream RdDM proteins, including DRM2, to loci that produce both siRNAs and IGN transcripts. However, the mechanism(s) through which Pol V is targeted to specific genomic loci remains largely unknown. Through affinity purification of two known RdDM components, DEFECTIVE IN RNA-DIRECTED DNA METHYLATION 1 (DRD1) and DEFECTIVE IN MERISTEM SILENCING 3 (DMS3), we found that they copurify with each other and with a novel protein, RNA-DIRECTED DNA METHYLATION 1 (RDM1), forming a complex we term DDR. We also found that DRD1 copurified with Pol V subunits and that RDM1, like DRD1 and DMS3, is required for the production of Pol V-dependent transcripts. These results suggest that the DDR complex acts in RdDM at a step upstream of the recruitment or activation of Pol V.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark affecting genes and transposons. Screening for mutants that fail to establish DNA methylation yielded two we termed "involved in de novo" (idn) 1 and 2. IDN1 encodes DMS3, an SMC-related protein, and IDN2 encodes a previously unknown double-stranded RNA-binding protein with homology to SGS3. IDN1 and IDN2 control de novo methylation and small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated maintenance methylation and are components of the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway.
At least three pathways control maintenance of DNA cytosine methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. However, the RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway is solely responsible for establishment of this silencing mark. We previously described INVOLVED IN DE NOVO 2 (IDN2) as being an RNA-binding RdDM component that is required for DNA methylation establishment. In this study, we describe the discovery of two partially redundant proteins that are paralogous to IDN2 and that form a stable complex with IDN2 in vivo. Null mutations in both genes, termed IDN2-LIKE 1 and IDN2-LIKE 2 (IDNL1 and IDNL2), result in a phenotype that mirrors, but does not further enhance, the idn2 mutant phenotype. Genetic analysis suggests that this complex acts in a step in the downstream portion of the RdDM pathway. We also have performed structural analysis showing that the IDN2 XS domain adopts an RNA recognition motif (RRM) fold. Finally, genome-wide DNA methylation and expression analysis confirms the placement of the IDN proteins in an RdDM pathway that affects DNA methylation and transcriptional control at many sites in the genome. Results from this study identify and describe two unique components of the RdDM machinery, adding to our understanding of DNA methylation control in the Arabidopsis genome.
Cytosine DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark frequently associated with silencing of genes and transposons. In Arabidopsis, the establishment of cytosine DNA methylation is performed by DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASE 2 (DRM2). DRM2 is guided to target sequences by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in a pathway termed RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). We performed a screen for mutants that affect the establishment of DNA methylation by investigating genes that contain predicted RNA-interacting domains. After transforming FWA into 429 T-DNA insertion lines, we assayed for mutants that exhibited a late-flowering phenotype due to hypomethylated, thus ectopically expressed, copies of FWA. A T-DNA insertion line within the coding region of the spliceosome gene SR45 (sr45-1) flowered late after FWA transformation. Additionally, sr45-1 mutants display defects in the maintenance of DNA methylation. DNA methylation establishment and maintenance defects present in sr45-1 mutants are enhanced in dcl3-1 mutant background, suggesting a synergistic cooperation between SR45 and DICER-LIKE3 (DCL3) in the RdDM pathway.
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