skip to main content

Title: Genetic and epigenetic variation in transposable element expression responses to abiotic stress in maize
Abstract Transposable elements (TEs) pervade most eukaryotic genomes. The repetitive nature of TEs complicates the analysis of their expression. Evaluation of the expression of both TE families (using unique and multi-mapping reads) and specific elements (using uniquely mapping reads) in leaf tissue of three maize (Zea mays) inbred lines subjected to heat or cold stress reveals no evidence for genome-wide activation of TEs; however, some specific TE families generate transcripts only in stress conditions. There is substantial variation for which TE families exhibit stress-responsive expression in the different genotypes. In order to understand the factors that drive expression of TEs, we focused on a subset of families in which we could monitor expression of individual elements. The stress-responsive activation of a TE family can often be attributed to a small number of elements in the family that contains regions lacking DNA methylation. Comparisons of the expression of TEs in different genotypes revealed both genetic and epigenetic variation. Many of the specific TEs that are activated in stress in one inbred are not present in the other inbred, explaining the lack of activation. Among the elements that are shared in both genomes but only expressed in one genotype, we found that more » many exhibit differences in DNA methylation such that the genotype without expression is fully methylated. This study provides insights into the regulation of expression of TEs in normal and stress conditions and highlights the role of chromatin variation between elements in a family or between genotypes for contributing to expression variation. The highly repetitive nature of many TEs complicates the analysis of their expression. Although most TEs are not expressed, some exhibits expression in certain tissues or conditions. We monitored the expression of both TE families (using unique and multi-mapping reads) and specific elements (using uniquely mapping reads) in leaf tissue of three maize (Zea mays) inbred lines subjected to heat or cold stress. While genome-wide activation of TEs did not occur, some TE families generated transcripts only in stress conditions with variation by genotype. To better understand the factors that drive expression of TEs, we focused on a subset of families in which we could monitor expression of individual elements. In most cases, stress-responsive activation of a TE family was attributed to a small number of elements in the family. The elements that contained small regions lacking DNA methylation regions showed enriched expression while fully methylated elements were rarely expressed in control or stress conditions. The cause of varied expression in the different genotypes was due to both genetic and epigenetic variation. Many specific TEs activated by stress in one inbred were not present in the other inbred. Among the elements shared in both genomes, full methylation inhibited expression in one of the genotypes. This study provides insights into the regulation of TE expression in normal and stress conditions and highlights the role of chromatin variation between elements in a family or between genotypes for contributing to expression. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1934384
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10283968
Journal Name:
Plant Physiology
Volume:
186
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
420 to 433
ISSN:
0032-0889
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. INTRODUCTION Transposable elements (TEs), repeat expansions, and repeat-mediated structural rearrangements play key roles in chromosome structure and species evolution, contribute to human genetic variation, and substantially influence human health through copy number variants, structural variants, insertions, deletions, and alterations to gene transcription and splicing. Despite their formative role in genome stability, repetitive regions have been relegated to gaps and collapsed regions in human genome reference GRCh38 owing to the technological limitations during its development. The lack of linear sequence in these regions, particularly in centromeres, resulted in the inability to fully explore the repeat content of the human genome in the context of both local and regional chromosomal environments. RATIONALE Long-read sequencing supported the complete, telomere-to-telomere (T2T) assembly of the pseudo-haploid human cell line CHM13. This resource affords a genome-scale assessment of all human repetitive sequences, including TEs and previously unknown repeats and satellites, both within and outside of gaps and collapsed regions. Additionally, a complete genome enables the opportunity to explore the epigenetic and transcriptional profiles of these elements that are fundamental to our understanding of chromosome structure, function, and evolution. Comparative analyses reveal modes of repeat divergence, evolution, and expansion or contraction with locus-level resolution. RESULTS We implementedmore »a comprehensive repeat annotation workflow using previously known human repeats and de novo repeat modeling followed by manual curation, including assessing overlaps with gene annotations, segmental duplications, tandem repeats, and annotated repeats. Using this method, we developed an updated catalog of human repetitive sequences and refined previous repeat annotations. We discovered 43 previously unknown repeats and repeat variants and characterized 19 complex, composite repetitive structures, which often carry genes, across T2T-CHM13. Using precision nuclear run-on sequencing (PRO-seq) and CpG methylated sites generated from Oxford Nanopore Technologies long-read sequencing data, we assessed RNA polymerase engagement across retroelements genome-wide, revealing correlations between nascent transcription, sequence divergence, CpG density, and methylation. These analyses were extended to evaluate RNA polymerase occupancy for all repeats, including high-density satellite repeats that reside in previously inaccessible centromeric regions of all human chromosomes. Moreover, using both mapping-dependent and mapping-independent approaches across early developmental stages and a complete cell cycle time series, we found that engaged RNA polymerase across satellites is low; in contrast, TE transcription is abundant and serves as a boundary for changes in CpG methylation and centromere substructure. Together, these data reveal the dynamic relationship between transcriptionally active retroelement subclasses and DNA methylation, as well as potential mechanisms for the derivation and evolution of new repeat families and composite elements. Focusing on the emerging T2T-level assembly of the HG002 X chromosome, we reveal that a high level of repeat variation likely exists across the human population, including composite element copy numbers that affect gene copy number. Additionally, we highlight the impact of repeats on the structural diversity of the genome, revealing repeat expansions with extreme copy number differences between humans and primates while also providing high-confidence annotations of retroelement transduction events. CONCLUSION The comprehensive repeat annotations and updated repeat models described herein serve as a resource for expanding the compendium of human genome sequences and reveal the impact of specific repeats on the human genome. In developing this resource, we provide a methodological framework for assessing repeat variation within and between human genomes. The exhaustive assessment of the transcriptional landscape of repeats, at both the genome scale and locally, such as within centromeres, sets the stage for functional studies to disentangle the role transcription plays in the mechanisms essential for genome stability and chromosome segregation. Finally, our work demonstrates the need to increase efforts toward achieving T2T-level assemblies for nonhuman primates and other species to fully understand the complexity and impact of repeat-derived genomic innovations that define primate lineages, including humans. Telomere-to-telomere assembly of CHM13 supports repeat annotations and discoveries. The human reference T2T-CHM13 filled gaps and corrected collapsed regions (triangles) in GRCh38. Combining long read–based methylation calls, PRO-seq, and multilevel computational methods, we provide a compendium of human repeats, define retroelement expression and methylation profiles, and delineate locus-specific sites of nascent transcription genome-wide, including previously inaccessible centromeres. SINE, short interspersed element; SVA, SINE–variable number tandem repeat– Alu ; LINE, long interspersed element; LTR, long terminal repeat; TSS, transcription start site; pA, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.« less
  2. 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 scenariosmore »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
  3. Bomblies, K (Ed.)
    Abstract Transposable elements (TEs) have the potential to create regulatory variation both through the disruption of existing DNA regulatory elements and through the creation of novel DNA regulatory elements. In a species with a large genome, such as maize, many TEs interspersed with genes create opportunities for significant allelic variation due to TE presence/absence polymorphisms among individuals. We used information on putative regulatory elements in combination with knowledge about TE polymorphisms in maize to identify TE insertions that interrupt existing accessible chromatin regions (ACRs) in B73 as well as examples of polymorphic TEs that contain ACRs among four inbred lines of maize including B73, Mo17, W22, and PH207. The TE insertions in three other assembled maize genomes (Mo17, W22, or PH207) that interrupt ACRs that are present in the B73 genome can trigger changes to the chromatin, suggesting the potential for both genetic and epigenetic influences of these insertions. Nearly 20% of the ACRs located over 2 kb from the nearest gene are located within an annotated TE. These are regions of unmethylated DNA that show evidence for functional importance similar to ACRs that are not present within TEs. Using a large panel of maize genotypes, we tested if theremore »is an association between the presence of TE insertions that interrupt, or carry, an ACR and the expression of nearby genes. While most TE polymorphisms are not associated with expression for nearby genes, the TEs that carry ACRs exhibit enrichment for being associated with higher expression of nearby genes, suggesting that these TEs may contribute novel regulatory elements. These analyses highlight the potential for a subset of TEs to rewire transcriptional responses in eukaryotic genomes.« less
  4. Lerat, Emmanuelle (Ed.)
    Abstract Methylated CHH (mCHH) islands are peaks of CHH methylation that occur primarily upstream to genes. These regions are actively targeted by the methylation machinery, occur at boundaries between heterochromatin and euchromatin, and tend to be near highly expressed genes. Here we took an evolutionary perspective by studying upstream mCHH islands across a sample of eight grass species. Using a statistical approach to define mCHH islands as regions that differ from genome-wide background CHH methylation levels, we demonstrated that mCHH islands are common and associate with 39% of genes, on average. We hypothesized that islands should be more frequent in genomes of large size, because they have more heterochromatin and hence more need for defined boundaries. We found, however, that smaller genomes tended to have a higher proportion of genes associated with 5′ mCHH islands. Consistent with previous work suggesting that islands reflect the silencing of the edge of transposable elements (TEs), genes with nearby TEs were more likely to have mCHH islands. However, the presence of mCHH islands was not a function solely of TEs, both because the underlying sequences of islands were often not homologous to TEs and because genic properties also predicted the presence of 5′ mCHHmore »islands. These genic properties included length and gene-body methylation (gbM); in fact, in three of eight species, the absence of gbM was a stronger predictor of a 5′ mCHH island than TE proximity. In contrast, gene expression level was a positive but weak predictor of the presence of an island. Finally, we assessed whether mCHH islands were evolutionarily conserved by focusing on a set of 2,720 orthologs across the eight species. They were generally not conserved across evolutionary time. Overall, our data establish additional genic properties that are associated with mCHH islands and suggest that they are not just a consequence of the TE silencing machinery.« less
  5. Abstract

    Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon in which differential allele expression occurs in a parent-of-origin-dependent manner. Imprinting in plants is tightly linked to transposable elements (TEs), and it has been hypothesized that genomic imprinting may be a consequence of demethylation of TEs. Here, we performed high-throughput sequencing of ribonucleic acids from four maize (Zea mays) endosperms that segregated newly silenced Mutator (Mu) transposons and identified 110 paternally expressed imprinted genes (PEGs) and 139 maternally expressed imprinted genes (MEGs). Additionally, two potentially novel paternally suppressed MEGs are associated with de novo Mu insertions. In addition, we find evidence for parent-of-origin effects on expression of 407 conserved noncoding sequences (CNSs) in maize endosperm. The imprinted CNSs are largely localized within genic regions and near genes, but the imprinting status of the CNSs are largely independent of their associated genes. Both imprinted CNSs and PEGs have been subject to relaxed selection. However, our data suggest that although MEGs were already subject to a higher mutation rate prior to their being imprinted, imprinting may be the cause of the relaxed selection of PEGs. In addition, although DNA methylation is lower in the maternal alleles of both the maternally and paternally expressed CNSs (matmore »and pat CNSs), the difference between the two alleles in H3K27me3 levels was only observed in pat CNSs. Together, our findings point to the importance of both transposons and CNSs in genomic imprinting in maize.

    « less