- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Molecular and Cellular Biology
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 1287 to 1296
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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The basic unit of chromatin, the nucleosome, is an octamer of four core histone proteins (H2A, H2B, H3, and H4) and serves as a fundamental regulatory unit in all DNA-templated processes. The majority of nucleosome assembly occurs during DNA replication when these core histones are produced en masse to accommodate the nascent genome. In addition, there are a number of nonallelic sequence variants of H2A and H3 in particular, known as histone variants, that can be incorporated into nucleosomes in a targeted and replication-independent manner. By virtue of their sequence divergence from the replication-coupled histones, these histone variants can impart unique properties onto the nucleosomes they occupy and thereby influence transcription and epigenetic states, DNA repair, chromosome segregation, and other nuclear processes in ways that profoundly affect plant biology. In this review, we discuss the evolutionary origins of these variants in plants, their known roles in chromatin, and their impacts on plant development and stress responses. We focus on the individual and combined roles of histone variants in transcriptional regulation within euchromatic and heterochromatic genome regions. Finally, we highlight gaps in our understanding of plant variants at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels, and we propose new directions for studymore »
Intrinsic elasticity of nucleosomes is encoded by histone variants and calibrated by their binding partnersHistone variants fine-tune transcription, replication, DNA damage repair, and faithful chromosome segregation. Whether and how nucleosome variants encode unique mechanical properties to their cognate chromatin structures remains elusive. Here, using in silico and in vitro nanoindentation methods, extending to in vivo dissections, we report that histone variant nucleosomes are intrinsically more elastic than their canonical counterparts. Furthermore, binding proteins, which discriminate between histone variant nucleosomes, suppress this innate elasticity and also compact chromatin. Interestingly, when we overexpress the binding proteins in vivo, we also observe increased compaction of chromatin enriched for histone variant nucleosomes, correlating with diminished access. Taken together, these data suggest a plausible link between innate mechanical properties possessed by histone variant nucleosomes, the adaptability of chromatin states in vivo, and the epigenetic plasticity of the underlying locus.
Abstract The importance of histone variant H2A.Z in transcription regulation has been well established, yet its mechanism-of-action remains enigmatic. Conflicting evidence exists in support of both an activating and a repressive role of H2A.Z in transcription. Here we report cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of nucleosomes and chromatin fibers containing H2A.Z and those containing canonical H2A. The structures show that H2A.Z incorporation results in substantial structural changes in both nucleosome and chromatin fiber. While H2A.Z increases the mobility of DNA terminus in nucleosomes, it simultaneously enables nucleosome arrays to form a more regular and condensed chromatin fiber. We also demonstrated that H2A.Z’s ability to enhance nucleosomal DNA mobility is largely attributed to its characteristic shorter C-terminus. Our study provides the structural basis for H2A.Z-mediated chromatin regulation, showing that the increase flexibility of the DNA termini in H2A.Z nucleosomes is central to its dual-functions in chromatin regulation and in transcription.
Abstract Master transcription factors reprogram cell fate in multicellular eukaryotes. Pioneer transcription factors have prominent roles in this process because of their ability to contact their cognate binding motifs in closed chromatin. Reprogramming is pervasive in plants, whose development is plastic and tuned by the environment, yet little is known about pioneer transcription factors in this kingdom. Here, we show that the master transcription factor LEAFY (LFY), which promotes floral fate through upregulation of the floral commitment factor APETALA1 ( AP1 ), is a pioneer transcription factor. In vitro, LFY binds to the endogenous AP1 target locus DNA assembled into a nucleosome. In vivo, LFY associates with nucleosome occupied binding sites at the majority of its target loci, including AP1 . Upon binding, LFY ‘unlocks’ chromatin locally by displacing the H1 linker histone and by recruiting SWI/SNF chromatin remodelers, but broad changes in chromatin accessibility occur later. Our study provides a mechanistic framework for patterning of inflorescence architecture and uncovers striking similarities between LFY and animal pioneer transcription factor.
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