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New Phytol. 2015 Jan;205(2):544-54. doi: 10.1111/nph.13088. Epub 2014 Oct 20.

Arabidopsis HIT4, a regulator involved in heat-triggered reorganization of chromatin and release of transcriptional gene silencing, relocates from chromocenters to the nucleolus in response to heat stress.

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Department of Life Sciences, National Central University, 300 Jhong-Da Road, Jhong-Li City, Taoyuan County, 32001, Taiwan.


Arabidopsis HIT4 is known to mediate heat-induced decondensation of chromocenters and release from transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) with no change in the level of DNA methylation. It is unclear whether HIT4 and MOM1, a well-known DNA methylation-independent transcriptional silencer, have overlapping regulatory functions. A hit4-1/mom1 double mutant strain was generated. Its nuclear morphology and TGS state were compared with those of wild-type, hit4-1, and mom1 plants. Fluorescent protein tagging was employed to track the fates of HIT4, hit4-1 and MOM1 in vivo under heat stress. HIT4- and MOM1-mediated TGS were distinguishable. Both HIT4 and MOM1 were localized normally to chromocenters. Under heat stress, HIT4 relocated to the nucleolus, whereas MOM1 dispersed with the chromocenters. hit4-1 was able to relocate to the nucleolus under heat stress, but its relocation was insufficient to trigger the decompaction of chromocenters. The hypersensitivity to heat associated with the impaired reactivation of TGS in hit4-1 was not alleviated by mom1-induced release from TGS. HIT4 delineates a novel and MOM1-independent TGS regulation pathway. The involvement of a currently unidentified component that links HIT4 relocation and the large-scale reorganization of chromatin, and which is essential for heat tolerance in plants is hypothesized.


Arabidopsis thaliana; HEAT-INTOLERANT 4 (HIT4); MORPHEUS' MOLECULE 1 (MOM1); chromatin reorganization; chromocenter decondensation; heat stress; transcriptional gene silencing

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