skip to main content

Title: Epigenetic Regulation of ABA-Induced Transcriptional Responses in Maize
Plants are subjected to extreme environmental conditions and must adapt rapidly. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) accumulates during abiotic stress, signaling transcriptional changes that trigger physiological responses. Epigenetic modifications often facilitate transcription, particularly at genes exhibiting temporal, tissue-specific and environmentally-induced expression. In maize ( Zea mays ), MEDIATOR OF PARAMUTATION 1 (MOP1) is required for progression of an RNA-dependent epigenetic pathway that regulates transcriptional silencing of loci genomewide. MOP1 function has been previously correlated with genomic regions adjoining particular types of transposable elements and genic regions, suggesting that this regulatory pathway functions to maintain distinct transcriptional activities within genomic spaces, and that loss of MOP1 may modify the responsiveness of some loci to other regulatory pathways. As critical regulators of gene expression, MOP1 and ABA pathways each regulate specific genes. To determine whether loss of MOP1 impacts ABA-responsive gene expression in maize, mop1-1 and Mop1 homozygous seedlings were subjected to exogenous ABA and RNA-sequencing. A total of 3,242 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in four pairwise comparisons. Overall, ABA-induced changes in gene expression were enhanced in mop1-1 homozygous plants. The highest number of DEGs were identified in ABA-induced mop1-1 mutants, including many transcription factors; this suggests combinatorial regulatory scenarios more » including direct and indirect transcriptional responses to genetic disruption ( mop1-1 ) and/or stimulus-induction of a hierarchical, cascading network of responsive genes. Additionally, a modest increase in CHH methylation at putative MOP1-RdDM loci in response to ABA was observed in some genotypes, suggesting that epigenetic variation might influence environmentally-induced transcriptional responses in maize. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1727 to 1743
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Fudal, Isabelle ; Di Pietro, Antonio (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Differential growth conditions typically trigger global transcriptional responses in filamentous fungi. Such fungal responses to environmental cues involve epigenetic regulation, including chemical histone modifications. It has been proposed that conditionally expressed genes, such as those that encode secondary metabolites but also effectors in pathogenic species, are often associated with a specific histone modification, lysine27 methylation of H3 (H3K27me3). However, thus far, no analyses on the global H3K27me3 profiles have been reported under differential growth conditions in order to assess if H3K27me3 dynamics govern differential transcription. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) and RNA sequencing data from the plant-pathogenic fungus Verticillium dahliae grown in three in vitro cultivation media, we now show that a substantial number of the identified H3K27me3 domains globally display stable profiles among these growth conditions. However, we observe local quantitative differences in H3K27me3 ChIP-seq signals that are associated with a subset of differentially transcribed genes between media. Comparing the in vitro results to expression during plant infection suggests that in planta -induced genes may require chromatin remodeling to achieve expression. Overall, our results demonstrate that some loci display H3K27me3 dynamics associated with concomitant transcriptional variation, but many differentially expressed genes are associated with stable H3K27me3 domains. Thus,more »we conclude that while H3K27me3 is required for transcriptional repression, it does not appear that transcriptional activation requires the global erasure of H3K27me3. We propose that the H3K27me3 domains that do not undergo dynamic methylation may contribute to transcription through other mechanisms or may serve additional genomic regulatory functions. IMPORTANCE In many organisms, including filamentous fungi, epigenetic mechanisms that involve chemical and physical modifications of DNA without changing the genetic sequence have been implicated in transcriptional responses upon developmental or environmental cues. In fungi, facultative heterochromatin that can decondense to allow transcription in response to developmental changes or environmental stimuli is characterized by the trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27me3), and H3K27me3 has been implicated in transcriptional regulation, although the precise mechanisms and functions remain enigmatic. Based on ChIP and RNA sequencing data, we show for the soilborne broad-host-range vascular wilt plant-pathogenic fungus Verticillium dahliae that although some loci display H3K27me3 dynamics that can contribute to transcriptional variation, other loci do not show such a dependence. Thus, although we recognize that H3K27me3 is required for transcriptional repression, we also conclude that this mark is not a conditionally responsive global regulator of differential transcription upon responses to environmental cues.« less
  2. Abstract

    Sex types of papaya are controlled by a pair of nascent sex chromosomes, but molecular genetic mechanisms of sex determination and sex differentiation in papaya are still unclear. We performed comparative analysis of transcriptomic profiles of male and female floral buds at the early development stage before the initiation of reproductive organ primordia at which there is no morphological difference between male and female flowers. A total of 1734 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified, of which 923 showed female-biased expression and 811 showed male-biased expression. Functional annotation revealed that genes related to plant hormone biosynthesis and signaling pathways, especially in abscisic acid and auxin pathways, were overrepresented in the DEGs. Transcription factor binding motifs, such as MYB2, GAMYB, and AP2/EREBP, were enriched in the promoters of the hormone-related DEGs, and transcription factors with those motifs also exhibited differential expression between sex types. Among these DEGs, we also identified 11 genes in the non-recombining region of the papaya sex chromosomes and 9 genes involved in stamen and carpel development. Our results suggested that sex differentiation in papaya may be regulated by multiple layers of regulation and coordination and involved transcriptional, epigenetic, and phytohormone regulation. Hormones, especially ABA and auxin,more »transcription factors, and genes in the non-recombination region of the sex chromosome could be involved in this process. Our findings may facilitate the elucidation of signal transduction and gene interaction in sex differentiation of unisexual flowers in papaya.

    « less
  3. Abstract Background Efforts to understand genetic variability involved in an individual’s susceptibility to chronic pain support a role for upstream regulation by epigenetic mechanisms. Methods To examine the transcriptomic and epigenetic basis of chronic pain that resides in the peripheral nervous system, we used RNA-seq and ATAC-seq of the rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) to identify novel molecular pathways associated with pain hypersensitivity in two well-studied persistent pain models induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve and intra-plantar injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) in rats. Results Our RNA-seq studies identify a variety of biological process related to synapse organization, membrane potential, transmembrane transport, and ion binding. Interestingly, genes that encode transcriptional regulators were disproportionately downregulated in both models. Our ATAC-seq data provide a comprehensive map of chromatin accessibility changes in the DRG. A total of 1123 regions showed changes in chromatin accessibility in one or both models when compared to the naïve and 31 shared differentially accessible regions (DAR)s. Functional annotation of the DARs identified disparate molecular functions enriched for each pain model which suggests that chromatin structure may be altered differently following sciatic nerve injury and hind paw inflammation. Motif analysis identified 17 DNA sequencesmore »known to bind transcription factors in the CCI DARs and 33 in the CFA DARs. Two motifs were significantly enriched in both models. Conclusions Our improved understanding of the changes in chromatin accessibility that occur in chronic pain states may identify regulatory genomic elements that play essential roles in modulating gene expression in the DRG.« less
  4. In maize, starch mutants have facilitated characterization of key genes involved in endosperm starch biosynthesis such as large subunit of AGPase Shrunken2 ( Sh2 ) and isoamylase type DBE Sugary1 ( Su1 ). While many starch biosynthesis enzymes have been characterized, the mechanisms of certain genes (including Sugary enhancer1 ) are yet undefined, and very little is understood about the regulation of starch biosynthesis. As a model, we utilize commercially important sweet corn mutations, sh2 and su1 , to genetically perturb starch production in the endosperm. To characterize the transcriptomic response to starch mutations and identify potential regulators of this pathway, differential expression and coexpression network analysis was performed on near-isogenic lines (NILs) (wildtype, sh2 , and su1 ) in six genetic backgrounds. Lines were grown in field conditions and kernels were sampled in consecutive developmental stages (blister stage at 14 days after pollination (DAP), milk stage at 21 DAP, and dent stage at 28 DAP). Kernels were dissected to separate embryo and pericarp from the endosperm tissue and 3′ RNA-seq libraries were prepared. Mutation of the Su1 gene led to minimal changes in the endosperm transcriptome. Responses to loss of sh2 function include increased expression of sugar (SWEET) transportersmore »and of genes for ABA signaling. Key regulators of starch biosynthesis and grain filling were identified. Notably, this includes Class II trehalose 6-phosphate synthases, Hexokinase1 , and Apetala2 transcription factor-like (AP2/ERF) transcription factors. Additionally, our results provide insight into the mechanism of Sugary enhancer1 , suggesting a potential role in regulating GA signaling via GRAS transcription factor Scarecrow-like1 .« less
  5. Abstract

    The ability to translate a single genome into multiple phenotypes, or developmental plasticity, defines how phenotype derives from more than just genes. However, to study the evolutionary targets of plasticity and their evolutionary fates, we need to understand how genetic regulators of plasticity control downstream gene expression. Here, we have identified a transcriptional response specific to polyphenism (i.e., discrete plasticity) in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus. This species produces alternative resource-use morphs—microbivorous and predatory forms, differing in the form of their teeth, a morphological novelty—as influenced by resource availability. Transcriptional profiles common to multiple polyphenism-controlling genes in P. pacificus reveal a suite of environmentally sensitive loci, or ultimate target genes, that make up an induced developmental response. Additionally, in vitro assays show that one polyphenism regulator, the nuclear receptor NHR-40, physically binds to promoters with putative HNF4α (the nuclear receptor class including NHR-40) binding sites, suggesting this receptor may directly regulate genes that describe alternative morphs. Among differentially expressed genes were morph-limited genes, highlighting factors with putative “on–off” function in plasticity regulation. Further, predatory morph-biased genes included candidates—namely, all four P. pacificus homologs of Hsp70, which have HNF4α motifs—whose natural variation in expression matches phenotypic differences among P. pacificus wildmore »isolates. In summary, our study links polyphenism regulatory loci to the transcription producing alternative forms of a morphological novelty. Consequently, our findings establish a platform for determining how specific regulators of morph-biased genes may influence selection on plastic phenotypes.

    « less