ABSTRACT: In mammals and plants, formation of heterochromatin is associated with hypermethylation of DNA at CpG sites and histone H3 methylation at lysine 9. Previous studies have revealed that maintenance of DNA methylation in Neurospora and Arabidopsis requires histone H3 methylation. A feedback loop from DNA methylation to histone methylation, however, is less understood. Its recent examination in Arabidopsis with a partial loss of function in DNA methyltransferase 1 (responsible for maintenance of CpG methylation) yielded conflicting results. Here we report that complete removal of CpG methylation in an Arabidopsis mutant null for DNA maintenance methyltransferase results in a clear loss of histone H3 methylation at lysine 9 in heterochromatin and also at heterochromatic loci that remain transcriptionally silent. Surprisingly, these dramatic alterations are not reflected in heterochromatin relaxation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2003; 100(15):8823-7. · 9.68 Impact Factor