RNA polymerases IV and V influence the 3' boundaries of Polymerase II transcription units in Arabidopsis.
ABSTRACT: Nuclear multisubunit RNA polymerases IV and V (Pol IV and Pol V) evolved in plants as specialized forms of Pol II. Their functions are best understood in the context of RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM), a process in which Pol IV-dependent 24 nt siRNAs direct the de novo cytosine methylation of regions transcribed by Pol V. Pol V has additional functions, independent of Pol IV and 24 nt siRNA biogenesis, in maintaining the repression of transposons and genomic repeats whose silencing depends on maintenance cytosine methylation. Here we report that Pol IV and Pol V play unexpected roles in defining the 3' boundaries of Pol II transcription units. Nuclear run-on assays reveal that in the absence of Pol IV or Pol V, Pol II occupancy downstream of poly A sites increases for approximately 12% of protein-coding genes. This effect is most pronounced for convergently transcribed gene pairs. Although Pols IV and V are detected near transcript ends of the affected Pol II - transcribed genes, their role in limiting Pol II read-through is independent of siRNA biogenesis or cytosine methylation for the majority of these genes. Interestingly, we observed that splicing was less efficient in pol IV or pol V mutant plants, compared to wild-type plants, suggesting that Pol IV or Pol V might affect pre-mRNA processing. We speculate that Pols IV and V (and/or their associated factors) play roles in Pol II transcription termination and pre-mRNA splicing by influencing polymerase elongation rates and/or release at collision sites for convergent genes.
Project description:Multisubunit RNA polymerases IV and V (Pols IV and V) mediate RNA-directed DNA methylation and transcriptional silencing of retrotransposons and heterochromatic repeats in plants. We identified genomic sites of Pol V occupancy in parallel with siRNA deep sequencing and methylcytosine mapping, comparing wild-type plants with mutants defective for Pol IV, Pol V, or both Pols IV and V. Approximately 60% of Pol V-associated regions encompass regions of 24-nucleotide (nt) siRNA complementarity and cytosine methylation, consistent with cytosine methylation being guided by base-pairing of Pol IV-dependent siRNAs with Pol V transcripts. However, 27% of Pol V peaks do not overlap sites of 24-nt siRNA biogenesis or cytosine methylation, indicating that Pol V alone does not specify sites of cytosine methylation. Surprisingly, the number of methylated CHH motifs, a hallmark of RNA-directed de novo methylation, is similar in wild-type plants and Pol IV or Pol V mutants. In the mutants, methylation is lost at 50%-60% of the CHH sites that are methylated in the wild type but is gained at new CHH positions, primarily in pericentromeric regions. These results indicate that Pol IV and Pol V are not required for cytosine methyltransferase activity but shape the epigenome by guiding CHH methylation to specific genomic sites.
Project description:In Arabidopsis, RNA-dependent DNA methylation and transcriptional silencing involves three nuclear RNA polymerases that are biochemically undefined: the presumptive DNA-dependent RNA polymerases Pol IV and Pol V and the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase RDR2. Here we demonstrate their RNA polymerase activities in vitro. Unlike Pol II, Pols IV and V require an RNA primer, are insensitive to ?-amanitin, and differ in their ability to displace the nontemplate DNA strand during transcription. Biogenesis of 24 nt small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which guide cytosine methylation to corresponding sequences, requires both Pol IV and RDR2, which physically associate in vivo. Whereas Pol IV does not require RDR2 for activity, RDR2 is nonfunctional in the absence of associated Pol IV. These results suggest that the physical and mechanistic coupling of Pol IV and RDR2 results in the channeled synthesis of double-stranded precursors for 24 nt siRNA biogenesis.
Project description:RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is an epigenetic process whereby small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) guide cytosine methylation of homologous DNA sequences. RdDM requires two specialized RNA polymerases: Pol IV transcribes the siRNA precursor whereas Pol V generates scaffold RNAs that interact with siRNAs and attract the methylation machinery. Recent evidence also suggests the involvement of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) in recruiting Pol IV and Pol V to low copy, intergenic loci. We demonstrated previously that Pol V-mediated methylation at a transgene locus in Arabidopsis spreads downstream of the originally targeted region by means of Pol IV/RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE2 (RDR2)-dependent 24-nt secondary siRNAs. Here we show that these secondary siRNAs can not only induce methylation in cis but also in trans at an unlinked target site, provided this sequence is transcribed by Pol II to produce a non-coding RNA. The Pol II transcript appears to be important for amplification of siRNAs at the unlinked target site because its presence correlates not only with methylation but also with elevated levels of 24-nt siRNAs. Potential target sites that lack an overlapping Pol II transcript and remain unmethylated in the presence of trans-acting 24-nt siRNAs can nevertheless acquire methylation in the presence of 21-24-nt hairpin-derived siRNAs, suggesting that RdDM of non-transcribed target sequences requires multiple size classes of siRNA. Our findings demonstrate that Pol II transcripts are not always needed for RdDM at low copy loci but they may intensify RdDM by facilitating amplification of Pol IV-dependent siRNAs at the DNA target site.
Project description:In plants, nuclear multisubunit RNA polymerases IV and V are RNA Polymerase II-related enzymes that synthesize non-coding RNAs for RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) and transcriptional gene silencing. Here, we tested the importance of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of Pol IV's largest subunit given that the Pol II CTD mediates multiple aspects of Pol II transcription. We show that the CTD is dispensable for Pol IV catalytic activity and Pol IV termination-dependent activation of RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 2, which partners with Pol IV to generate dsRNA precursors of the 24 nt siRNAs that guide RdDM. However, 24 nt siRNA levels decrease ?80% when the CTD is deleted. RNA-dependent cytosine methylation is also reduced, but only ?20%, suggesting that siRNA levels typically exceed the levels needed for methylation of most loci. Pol IV-dependent loci affected by loss of the CTD are primarily located in chromosome arms, similar to loci dependent CLSY1/2 or SHH1, which are proteins implicated in Pol IV recruitment. However, deletion of the CTD does not phenocopy clsy or shh1 mutants, consistent with the CTD affecting post-recruitment aspects of Pol IV activity at target loci.
Project description:All eukaryotes have three essential nuclear multisubunit RNA polymerases, abbreviated as Pol I, Pol II and Pol III. Plants are remarkable in having two additional multisubunit RNA polymerases, Pol IV and Pol V, which synthesize noncoding RNAs that coordinate RNA-directed DNA methylation for silencing of transposons and a subset of genes. Based on their subunit compositions, Pols IV and V clearly evolved as specialized forms of Pol II, but their catalytic properties remain undefined. Here, we show that Pols IV and V differ from one another, and Pol II, in nucleotide incorporation rate, transcriptional accuracy and the ability to discriminate between ribonucleotides and deoxyribonucleotides. Pol IV transcription is considerably more error-prone than Pols II or V, which may be tolerable in its synthesis of short RNAs that serve as precursors for siRNAs targeting non-identical members of transposon families. By contrast, Pol V exhibits high fidelity transcription, similar to Pol II, suggesting a need for Pol V transcripts to faithfully reflect the DNA sequence of target loci to which siRNA-Argonaute silencing complexes are recruited.
Project description:Twenty-four-nucleotide small interfering (si)RNAs are central players in RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM), a process that establishes and maintains DNA methylation at transposable elements to ensure genome stability in plants. The plant-specific RNA polymerase IV (Pol IV) is required for siRNA biogenesis and is believed to transcribe RdDM loci to produce primary transcripts that are converted to double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) by RDR2 to serve as siRNA precursors. Yet, no such siRNA precursor transcripts have ever been reported. Here, through genome-wide profiling of RNAs in genotypes that compromise the processing of siRNA precursors, we were able to identify Pol IV/RDR2-dependent transcripts from tens of thousands of loci. We show that Pol IV/RDR2-dependent transcripts correspond to both DNA strands, whereas the RNA polymerase II (Pol II)-dependent transcripts produced upon derepression of the loci are derived primarily from one strand. We also show that Pol IV/RDR2-dependent transcripts have a 5' monophosphate, lack a poly(A) tail at the 3' end, and contain no introns; these features distinguish them from Pol II-dependent transcripts. Like Pol II-transcribed genic regions, Pol IV-transcribed regions are flanked by A/T-rich sequences depleted in nucleosomes, which highlights similarities in Pol II- and Pol IV-mediated transcription. Computational analysis of siRNA abundance from various mutants reveals differences in the regulation of siRNA biogenesis at two types of loci that undergo CHH methylation via two different DNA methyltransferases. These findings begin to reveal features of Pol IV/RDR2-mediated transcription at the heart of genome stability in plants.
Project description:Multisubunit RNA polymerases IV and V (Pol IV and Pol V) evolved as specialized forms of Pol II that mediate RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) and transcriptional silencing of transposons, viruses, and endogenous repeats in plants. Among the subunits common to Arabidopsis thaliana Pols II, IV, and V are 93% identical alternative ninth subunits, NRP(B/D/E)9a and NRP(B/D/E)9b. The 9a and 9b subunit variants are incompletely redundant with respect to Pol II; whereas double mutants are embryo lethal, single mutants are viable, yet phenotypically distinct. Likewise, 9a or 9b can associate with Pols IV or V but RNA-directed DNA methylation is impaired only in 9b mutants. Based on genetic and molecular tests, we attribute the defect in RdDM to impaired Pol V function. Collectively, our results reveal a role for the ninth subunit in RNA silencing and demonstrate that subunit diversity generates functionally distinct subtypes of RNA polymerases II and V.
Project description:RNA-directed DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana is driven by the plant-specific RNA Polymerase IV (Pol IV). It has been assumed that a Pol IV transcript can give rise to multiple 24-nt small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that target DNA methylation. Here, we demonstrate that Pol IV-dependent RNAs (P4RNAs) from wild-type Arabidopsis are surprisingly short in length (30 to 40 nt) and mirror 24-nt siRNAs in distribution, abundance, strand bias, and 5'-adenine preference. P4RNAs exhibit transcription start sites similar to Pol II products and are featured with 5'-monophosphates and 3'-misincorporated nucleotides. The 3'-misincorporation preferentially occurs at methylated cytosines on the template DNA strand, suggesting a co-transcriptional feedback to siRNA biogenesis by DNA methylation to reinforce silencing locally. These results highlight an unusual mechanism of Pol IV transcription and suggest a "one precursor, one siRNA" model for the biogenesis of 24-nt siRNAs in Arabidopsis.
Project description:In plants, RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription of inverted DNA repeats produces hairpin RNAs that are processed by several DICER-LIKE enzymes into siRNAs that are 21-24-nt in length. When targeted to transcriptional regulatory regions, the 24-nt size class can induce RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) and transcriptional gene silencing (TGS). In a forward genetic screen to identify mutants defective in RdDM of a target enhancer leading to TGS of a downstream GFP reporter gene in Arabidopsis thaliana, we recovered a structurally mutated silencer locus, named SΔ35S, in which the 35S promoter driving transcription of an inverted repeat of target enhancer sequences had been specifically deleted. Although Pol II-dependent, hairpin-derived 21-24-nt siRNAs were no longer generated at the newly created SΔ35S locus, the GFP reporter gene was nevertheless still partially silenced. Silencing was associated with methylation in a short tandem repeat in the upstream target enhancer and with low levels of 24-nt tandem repeat siRNAs. Introducing an nrpd1 mutation into the SΔ35S line fully released GFP silencing and eliminated both the tandem repeat methylation and associated 24-nt siRNAs, demonstrating their dependence on Pol IV. Deletion of the 35S promoter thus revealed a Pol IV-dependent pathway of 24-nt siRNA biogenesis that was previously inhibited or masked by the Pol II-dependent pathway in wild-type plants. Both Pol II- and Pol IV-dependent siRNAs accrued predominantly from cytosine (C)-containing segments of the tandem repeat monomer, suggesting that the local base composition influenced siRNA accumulation. Preferential accumulation of siRNAs at C-containing sequences was also observed at an endogenous tandem repeat comprising discrete C-rich and AT-rich sections. Our studies illuminate the potential complexity of siRNA generation at repeat-containing loci and show that Pol IV can act in siRNA biogenesis in the absence of a conventional Pol II promoter. Examination of whole-genome DNA methylation status in transgenic T+S Arabidopsis plant
Project description:In Arabidopsis thaliana, abundant 24 nucleotide small interfering RNAs (24 nt siRNA) guide the cytosine methylation and silencing of transposons and a subset of genes. 24 nt siRNA biogenesis requires nuclear RNA polymerase IV (Pol IV), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 2 (RDR2) and DICER-like 3 (DCL3). However, siRNA precursors are mostly undefined. We identified Pol IV and RDR2-dependent RNAs (P4R2 RNAs) that accumulate in dcl3 mutants and are diced into 24 nt RNAs by DCL3 in vitro. P4R2 RNAs are mostly 26-45 nt and initiate with a purine adjacent to a pyrimidine, characteristics shared by Pol IV transcripts generated in vitro. RDR2 terminal transferase activity, also demonstrated in vitro, may account for occasional non-templated nucleotides at P4R2 RNA 3' termini. The 24 nt siRNAs primarily correspond to the 5' or 3' ends of P4R2 RNAs, suggesting a model whereby siRNAs are generated from either end of P4R2 duplexes by single dicing events.