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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(10):e1002995. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002995. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

The SET-domain protein SUVR5 mediates H3K9me2 deposition and silencing at stimulus response genes in a DNA methylation-independent manner.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.


In eukaryotic cells, environmental and developmental signals alter chromatin structure and modulate gene expression. Heterochromatin constitutes the transcriptionally inactive state of the genome and in plants and mammals is generally characterized by DNA methylation and histone modifications such as histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation. In Arabidopsis thaliana, DNA methylation and H3K9 methylation are usually colocated and set up a mutually self-reinforcing and stable state. Here, in contrast, we found that SUVR5, a plant Su(var)3-9 homolog with a SET histone methyltransferase domain, mediates H3K9me2 deposition and regulates gene expression in a DNA methylation-independent manner. SUVR5 binds DNA through its zinc fingers and represses the expression of a subset of stimulus response genes. This represents a novel mechanism for plants to regulate their chromatin and transcriptional state, which may allow for the adaptability and modulation necessary to rapidly respond to extracellular cues.

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