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Induction of RNA-directed DNA methylation upon decondensation of constitutive heterochromatin.

ABSTRACT: Centromeric constitutive heterochromatin is marked by DNA methylation and dimethylated histone H3 Lys 9 (H3K9me2) in Arabidopsis. RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is a process that uses 24-nucleotide (nt) small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to induce de novo methylation to its homologous DNA sequences. Despite the presence of centromeric 24-nt siRNAs, mutations in genes required for RdDM do not appreciably influence the methylation of centromeric repeats. The mechanism by which constitutive heterochromatin is protected from RdDM remains puzzling. Here, we report that the vegetative cell nuclei (VN) of the male gametophyte (pollen) invariably undergo extensive decondensation of centromeric heterochromatin and lose centromere identity. VN show greatly reduced H3K9me2, phenocopying nuclei carrying a mutation in the chromatin remodeller DECREASE IN DNA METHYLATION 1 (DDM1). However, unlike the situation in ddm1 nuclei, the decondensed heterochromatin retains dense CG methylation and transcriptional silencing, and, unexpectedly, is subjected to RdDM-dependent hypermethylation in non-CG contexts. These findings reveal two assembly orders of silent heterochromatin and implicate the condensed form in blocking the RdDM machinery.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2750062 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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