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Plant Cell. 2008 Feb;20(2):259-76. doi: 10.1105/tpc.107.056879. Epub 2008 Feb 8.

High-resolution mapping of epigenetic modifications of the rice genome uncovers interplay between DNA methylation, histone methylation, and gene expression.

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National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing 102206, China.


We present high-resolution maps of DNA methylation and H3K4 di- and trimethylation of two entire chromosomes and two fully sequenced centromeres in rice (Oryza sativa) shoots and cultured cells. This analysis reveals combinatorial interactions between these epigenetic modifications and chromatin structure and gene expression. Cytologically densely stained heterochromatin had less H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 and more methylated DNA than the less densely stained euchromatin, whereas centromeres had a unique epigenetic composition. Most transposable elements had highly methylated DNA but no H3K4 methylation, whereas more than half of protein-coding genes had both methylated DNA and di- and/or trimethylated H3K4. Methylation of DNA but not H3K4 was correlated with suppressed transcription. By contrast, when both DNA and H3K4 were methylated, transcription was only slightly reduced. Transcriptional activity was positively correlated with the ratio of H3K4me3/H3K4me2: genes with predominantly H3K4me3 were actively transcribed, whereas genes with predominantly H3K4me2 were transcribed at moderate levels. More protein-coding genes contained all three modifications, and more transposons contained DNA methylation in shoots than cultured cells. Differential epigenetic modifications correlated to tissue-specific expression between shoots and cultured cells. Collectively, this study provides insights into the rice epigenomes and their effect on gene expression and plant development.

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