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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  2. Abstract Background Regulation of chromatin accessibility and transcription are tightly coordinated processes. Studies in yeast and higher eukaryotes have described accessible chromatin regions, but little work has been done in filamentous fungi. Results Here we present a genome-scale characterization of accessible chromatin regions in Neurospora crassa , which revealed characteristic molecular features of accessible and inaccessible chromatin. We present experimental evidence of inaccessibility within heterochromatin regions in Neurospora, and we examine features of both accessible and inaccessible chromatin, including the presence of histone modifications, types of transcription, transcription factor binding, and relative nucleosome turnover rates. Chromatin accessibility is not strictly correlated with expression level. Accessible chromatin regions in the model filamentous fungus Neurospora are characterized the presence of H3K27 acetylation and commonly associated with pervasive non-coding transcription. Conversely, methylation of H3 lysine-36 catalyzed by ASH1 is correlated with inaccessible chromatin within promoter regions. Conclusions: In N. crassa, H3K27 acetylation is the most predictive histone modification for open chromatin. Conversely, our data show that H3K36 methylation is a key marker of inaccessible chromatin in gene-rich regions of the genome. Our data are consistent with an expanded role for H3K36 methylation in intergenic regions of filamentous fungi compared to the model yeasts,more »S. cerevisiae and S. pombe, which lack homologs of the ASH1 methyltransferase.« less
  3. Abstract The identification and characterization of cis-regulatory DNA sequences and how they function to coordinate responses to developmental and environmental cues is of paramount importance to plant biology. Key to these regulatory processes are cis-regulatory modules (CRMs), which include enhancers and silencers. Despite the extraordinary advances in high-quality sequence assemblies and genome annotations, the identification and understanding of CRMs, and how they regulate gene expression, lag significantly behind. This is especially true for their distinguishing characteristics and activity states. Here, we review the current knowledge on CRMs and breakthrough technologies enabling identification, characterization, and validation of CRMs; we compare the genomic distributions of CRMs with respect to their target genes between different plant species, and discuss the role of transposable elements harboring CRMs in the evolution of gene expression. This is an exciting time to study cis-regulomes in plants; however, significant existing challenges need to be overcome to fully understand and appreciate the role of CRMs in plant biology and in crop improvement.
  4. Abstract Epigenomics is the study of molecular signatures associated with discrete regions within genomes, many of which are important for a wide range of nuclear processes. The ability to profile the epigenomic landscape associated with genes, repetitive regions, transposons, transcription, differential expression, cis-regulatory elements, and 3D chromatin interactions has vastly improved our understanding of plant genomes. However, many epigenomic and single-cell genomic assays are challenging to perform in plants, leading to a wide range of data quality issues; thus, the data require rigorous evaluation prior to downstream analyses and interpretation. In this commentary, we provide considerations for the evaluation of plant epigenomics and single-cell genomics data quality with the aim of improving the quality and utility of studies using those data across diverse plant species.
  5. Hufford, M (Ed.)
    Abstract Accurate genome annotations are essential to modern biology; however, they remain challenging to produce. Variation in gene structure and expression across species, as well as within an organism, make correctly annotating genes arduous; an issue exacerbated by pitfalls in current in silico methods. These issues necessitate complementary approaches to add additional confidence and rectify potential misannotations. Integration of epigenomic data into genome annotation is one such approach. In this study, we utilized sets of histone modification data, which are precisely distributed at either gene bodies or promoters to evaluate the annotation of the Zea mays genome. We leveraged these data genome wide, allowing for identification of annotations discordant with empirical data. In total, 13,159 annotation discrepancies were found in Z. mays upon integrating data across three different tissues, which were corroborated using RNA-based approaches. Upon correction, genes were extended by an average of 2128 base pairs, and we identified 2529 novel genes. Application of this method to five additional plant genomes identified a series of misannotations, as well as identified novel genes, including 13,836 in Asparagus officinalis, 2724 in Setaria viridis, 2446 in Sorghum bicolor, 8631 in Glycine max, and 2585 in Phaseolous vulgaris. This study demonstrates that histonemore »modification data can be leveraged to rapidly improve current genome annotations across diverse plant lineages.« less
  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Wittkopp, Patricia (Ed.)
    Abstract Recent pangenome studies have revealed a large fraction of the gene content within a species exhibits presence-absence variation (PAV). However, coding regions alone provide an incomplete assessment of functional genomic sequence variation at the species level. Little to no attention has been paid to noncoding regulatory regions in pangenome studies, though these sequences directly modulate gene expression and phenotype. To uncover regulatory genetic variation, we generated chromosome-scale genome assemblies for thirty Arabidopsis thaliana accessions from multiple distinct habitats and characterized species level variation in Conserved Noncoding Sequences (CNS). Our analyses uncovered not only PAV and positional variation (PosV) but that diversity in CNS is non-random, with variants shared across different accessions. Using evolutionary analyses and chromatin accessibility data, we provide further evidence supporting roles for conserved and variable CNS in gene regulation. Additionally, our data suggests transposable elements contribute to CNS variation. Characterizing species-level diversity in all functional genomic sequences may later uncover previously unknown mechanistic links between genotype and phenotype.