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H1 restricts euchromatin-associated methylation pathways from heterochromatic encroachment.

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Zhong, Zhenhui 
Ichino, Lucia 
Feng, Suhua 


Silencing pathways prevent transposable element (TE) proliferation and help to maintain genome integrity through cell division. Silenced genomic regions can be classified as either euchromatic or heterochromatic, and are targeted by genetically separable epigenetic pathways. In plants, the RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway targets mostly euchromatic regions, while CMT DNA methyltransferases are mainly associated with heterochromatin. However, many epigenetic features - including DNA methylation patterning - are largely indistinguishable between these regions, so how the functional separation is maintained is unclear. The linker histone H1 is preferentially localized to heterochromatin and has been proposed to restrict RdDM from encroachment. To test this hypothesis, we followed RdDM genomic localization in an h1 mutant by performing ChIP-seq on the largest subunit, NRPE1, of the central RdDM polymerase, Pol V. Loss of H1 resulted in NRPE1 enrichment predominantly in heterochromatic TEs. Increased NRPE1 binding was associated with increased chromatin accessibility in h1, suggesting that H1 restricts NRPE1 occupancy by compacting chromatin. However, RdDM occupancy did not impact H1 localization, demonstrating that H1 hierarchically restricts RdDM positioning. H1 mutants experience major symmetric (CG and CHG) DNA methylation gains, and by generating an h1/nrpe1 double mutant, we demonstrate these gains are largely independent of RdDM. However, loss of NRPE1 occupancy from a subset of euchromatic regions in h1 corresponded to the loss of methylation in all sequence contexts, while at ectopically bound heterochromatic loci, NRPE1 deposition correlated with increased methylation specifically in the CHH context. Additionally, we found that H1 similarly restricts the occupancy of the methylation reader, SUVH1, and polycomb-mediated H3K27me3. Together, the results support a model whereby H1 helps maintain the exclusivity of heterochromatin by preventing encroachment from other competing pathways.


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: We thank Mahnaz Akhavan for support with high-throughput sequencing at the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center BioSequencing Core Facility. CJH is supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF\R1\201016). This work was supported by NIH R35 GM130272 to SEJ. SEJ is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Funder: Howard Hughes Medical Institute; FundRef:


A. thaliana, DNA methylation, RdDM, epigenetics, plant biology, Heterochromatin, Euchromatin, DNA Methylation, Histones, Arabidopsis, Arabidopsis Proteins, Epigenesis, Genetic

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eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
Royal Society (URF\R1\201016)
National Institutes of Health (GM130272)