BackgroundCircadian rhythms modulate growth and development in all organisms through interlocking transcriptional-translational feedback loops. The transcriptional loop involves chromatin modifications of central circadian oscillators in mammals and plants. However, the molecular basis for rhythmic epigenetic modifications and circadian regulation is poorly understood.
ResultsHere we report a feedback relationship between diurnal regulation of circadian clock genes and histone modifications in Arabidopsis. On one hand, the circadian oscillators CCA1 and LHY regulate diurnal expression of genes coding for the eraser (JMJ14) directly and writer (SDG2) indirectly for H3K4me3 modification, leading to rhythmic H3K4me3 changes in target genes. On the other hand, expression of circadian oscillator genes including CCA1 and LHY is associated with H3K4me3 levels and decreased in the sdg2 mutant but increased in the jmj14 mutant. At the genome-wide level, diurnal rhythms of H3K4me3 and another histone mark H3K9ac are associated with diurnal regulation of 20-30% of the expressed genes. While the majority (86%) of H3K4me3 and H3K9ac target genes overlap, only 13% of morning-phased and 22% of evening-phased genes had both H3K4me3 and H3K9ac peaks, suggesting specific roles of different histone modifications in diurnal gene expression.
ConclusionsCircadian clock genes promote diurnal regulation of SDG2 and JMJ14 expression, which in turn regulate rhythmic histone modification dynamics for the clock and its output genes. This reciprocal regulatory module between chromatin modifiers and circadian clock oscillators orchestrates diurnal gene expression that governs plant growth and development.