Histone variants play crucial roles in gene expression, genome integrity, and chromosome segregation. We report that the four H2A variants in Arabidopsis define different genomic features, contributing to overall genomic organization. The histone variant H2A.W marks heterochromatin specifically and acts in synergy with heterochromatic marks H3K9me2 and DNA methylation to maintain transposon silencing. In vitro, H2A.W enhances chromatin condensation by promoting fiber-to-fiber interactions via its conserved C-terminal motif. In vivo, H2A.W is required for heterochromatin condensation, demonstrating that H2A.W plays critical roles in heterochromatin organization. Similarities in conserved motifs between H2A.W and another H2A variant in metazoans suggest that plants and animals share common mechanisms for heterochromatin condensation.
DNA methylation is a conserved epigenetic gene-regulation mechanism. DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASE (DRM) is a key de novo methyltransferase in plants, but how DRM acts mechanistically is poorly understood. Here, we report the crystal structure of the methyltransferase domain of tobacco DRM (NtDRM) and reveal a molecular basis for its rearranged structure. NtDRM forms a functional homodimer critical for catalytic activity. We also show that Arabidopsis DRM2 exists in complex with the small interfering RNA (siRNA) effector ARGONAUTE4 (AGO4) and preferentially methylates one DNA strand, likely the strand acting as the template for RNA polymerase V-mediated noncoding RNA transcripts. This strand-biased DNA methylation is also positively correlated with strand-biased siRNA accumulation. These data suggest a model in which DRM2 is guided to target loci by AGO4-siRNA and involves base-pairing of associated siRNAs with nascent RNA transcripts.
RNA-directed DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana depends on the upstream synthesis of 24-nucleotide small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) by RNA POLYMERASE IV (Pol IV) and downstream synthesis of non-coding transcripts by Pol V. Pol V transcripts are thought to interact with siRNAs which then recruit DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASE 2 (DRM2) to methylate DNA. The SU(VAR)3-9 homologues SUVH2 and SUVH9 act in this downstream step but the mechanism of their action is unknown. Here we show that genome-wide Pol V association with chromatin redundantly requires SUVH2 and SUVH9. Although SUVH2 and SUVH9 resemble histone methyltransferases, a crystal structure reveals that SUVH9 lacks a peptide-substrate binding cleft and lacks a properly formed S-adenosyl methionine (SAM)-binding pocket necessary for normal catalysis, consistent with a lack of methyltransferase activity for these proteins. SUVH2 and SUVH9 both contain SRA (SET- and RING-ASSOCIATED) domains capable of binding methylated DNA, suggesting that they function to recruit Pol V through DNA methylation. Consistent with this model, mutation of DNA METHYLTRANSFERASE 1 (MET1) causes loss of DNA methylation, a nearly complete loss of Pol V at its normal locations, and redistribution of Pol V to sites that become hypermethylated. Furthermore, tethering SUVH2 with a zinc finger to an unmethylated site is sufficient to recruit Pol V and establish DNA methylation and gene silencing. These results indicate that Pol V is recruited to DNA methylation through the methyl-DNA binding SUVH2 and SUVH9 proteins, and our mechanistic findings suggest a means for selectively targeting regions of plant genomes for epigenetic silencing.
DNA methylation occurs in CG and non-CG sequence contexts. Non-CG methylation is abundant in plants and is mediated by CHROMOMETHYLASE (CMT) and DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASE (DRM) proteins; however, its roles remain poorly understood. Here we characterize the roles of non-CG methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. We show that a poorly characterized methyltransferase, CMT2, is a functional methyltransferase in vitro and in vivo. CMT2 preferentially binds histone H3 Lys9 (H3K9) dimethylation and methylates non-CG cytosines that are regulated by H3K9 methylation. We revealed the contributions and redundancies between each non-CG methyltransferase in DNA methylation patterning and in regulating transcription. We also demonstrate extensive dependencies of small-RNA accumulation and H3K9 methylation patterning on non-CG methylation, suggesting self-reinforcing mechanisms between these epigenetic factors. The results suggest that non-CG methylation patterns are critical in shaping the landscapes of histone modification and small noncoding RNA.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate a wide variety of biological processes in most eukaryotes. We investigated the function and evolution of miR4376 in the family Solanaceae. We report that the 22-nucleotide miR4376 regulates the expression of an autoinhibited Ca(2+)-ATPase, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) ACA10, which plays a critical role in tomato reproductive growth. Deep phylogenetic mapping suggested (1) an evolution course of MIR4376 loci and posttranscriptional processing of pre-miR4376 as a likely limiting step for the evolution of miR4376, (2) an independent phylogenetic origin of the miR4376 target site in ACA10 homologs, and (3) alternative splicing as a possible mechanism of eliminating such a target in some ACA10 homologs. Furthermore, miR4376 triggers the formation of phased small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) from Sl ACA10 and its Solanum tuberosum homolog. Together, our data provide experimental evidence of miRNA-regulated expression of universally important Ca(2+)-ATPases. The miR4376-regulated expression of ACA10 itself, and possibly also the associated formation of phased siRNAs, may function as a novel layer of molecular mechanisms underlying tomato reproductive growth. Finally, our data suggest that the stochastic emergence of a miRNA-target gene combination involves multiple molecular events at the genomic, transcriptional, and posttranscriptional levels that may vary drastically in even closely related species.
Eukaryotic DNA cytosine methylation can be used to transcriptionally silence repetitive sequences, including transposons and retroviruses. This silencing is stable between cell generations as cytosine methylation is maintained epigenetically through DNA replication. The Arabidopsis thaliana Dnmt3 cytosine methyltransferase ortholog DOMAINS rearranged methyltransferase2 (DRM2) is required for establishment of small interfering RNA (siRNA) directed DNA methylation. In mammals PIWI proteins and piRNA act in a convergently evolved RNA-directed DNA methylation system that is required to repress transposon expression in the germ line. De novo methylation may also be independent of RNA interference and small RNAs, as in Neurospora crassa. Here we identify a clade of catalytically mutated DRM2 paralogs in flowering plant genomes, which in A.thaliana we term domains rearranged methyltransferase3 (DRM3). Despite being catalytically mutated, DRM3 is required for normal maintenance of non-CG DNA methylation, establishment of RNA-directed DNA methylation triggered by repeat sequences and accumulation of repeat-associated small RNAs. Although the mammalian catalytically inactive Dnmt3L paralogs act in an analogous manner, phylogenetic analysis indicates that the DRM and Dnmt3 protein families diverged independently in plants and animals. We also show by site-directed mutagenesis that both the DRM2 N-terminal UBA domains and C-terminal methyltransferase domain are required for normal RNA-directed DNA methylation, supporting an essential targeting function for the UBA domains. These results suggest that plant and mammalian RNA-directed DNA methylation systems consist of a combination of ancestral and convergent features.
The RNA silencing pathway is an intracellular innate response to virus infections and retro-transposons. Many plant viruses counter this host restriction by RNA silencing suppressor (RSS) activity of a double-stranded RNA-binding protein, e.g., tomato bushy stunt virus P19. Here, we demonstrate P19 and HIV-1 Tat function across the plant and animal kingdoms and suppress a common step in RNA silencing that is downstream of small RNA maturation. Our experiments reveal that RNA silencing in HIV-1 infected human cells severely attenuates the translational output of the unspliced HIV-1 gag mRNA, and possibly all HIV-1 transcripts. The attenuation in gag mRNA translation is exacerbated by K51A substitution in the Tat double-stranded RNA-binding domain. Tat, plant virus RSS, or Dicer downregulation rescues robust gag translation and bolsters HIV-1 virion production. The reversal of HIV-1 translation repression by plant RSS supports the recent finding in Arabidopsis that plant miRNAs operate by translational inhibition. Our results identify common features between RNA silencing suppression of plant and animal viruses. We suggest that RNA silencing-mediated translation repression plays a strategic role in determining the viral set-point in a newly HIV-1-infected patient.
DNA methylation and histone modification exert epigenetic control over gene expression. CHG methylation by CHROMOMETHYLASE3 (CMT3) depends on histone H3K9 dimethylation (H3K9me2), but the mechanism underlying this relationship is poorly understood. Here, we report multiple lines of evidence that CMT3 interacts with H3K9me2-containing nucleosomes. CMT3 genome locations nearly perfectly correlated with H3K9me2, and CMT3 stably associated with H3K9me2-containing nucleosomes. Crystal structures of maize CMT3 homolog ZMET2, in complex with H3K9me2 peptides, showed that ZMET2 binds H3K9me2 via both bromo adjacent homology (BAH) and chromo domains. The structures reveal an aromatic cage within both BAH and chromo domains as interaction interfaces that capture H3K9me2. Mutations that abolish either interaction disrupt CMT3 binding to nucleosomes and show a complete loss of CMT3 activity in vivo. Our study establishes dual recognition of H3K9me2 marks by BAH and chromo domains and reveals a distinct mechanism of interplay between DNA methylation and histone modification.
The plant-specific DNA-dependent RNA polymerase V (Pol V) evolved from Pol II to function in an RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway. Here, we have identified targets of Pol V in Arabidopsis thaliana on a genome-wide scale using ChIP-seq of NRPE1, the largest catalytic subunit of Pol V. We found that Pol V is enriched at promoters and evolutionarily recent transposons. This localization pattern is highly correlated with Pol V-dependent DNA methylation and small RNA accumulation. We also show that genome-wide chromatin association of Pol V is dependent on all members of a putative chromatin-remodeling complex termed DDR. Our study presents a genome-wide view of Pol V occupancy and sheds light on the mechanistic basis of Pol V localization. Furthermore, these findings suggest a role for Pol V and RNA-directed DNA methylation in genome surveillance and in responding to genome evolution.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.