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Perturbation of H3K27me3-Associated Epigenetic Processes Increases Agrobacterium-Mediated Transformation

Iwakawa, Hidekazu, Carter, Benjamin C., Bishop, Brett C., Ogas, Joe, Gelvin, Stanton B.
Molecular plant-microbe interactions 2017 v.30 no.1 pp. 35-44
Arabidopsis, agricultural biotechnology, animals, chromatin, epigenetics, gene overexpression, genes, histones, lysine, mutation, transfer DNA, transgenesis
Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is a core technology for basic plant science and agricultural biotechnology. Improving transformation frequency is a major goal for plant transgenesis. We previously showed that T-DNA insertions in some histone genes decreased transformation susceptibility, whereas overexpression of several Arabidopsis H2A and H4 isoforms increased transformation. Overexpression of several histone H2B and H3 isoforms had little effect on transformation frequency. However, overexpression of histone H3-11 (HTR11) enhanced transformation. HTR11 is a unique H3 variant that lacks lysine at positions 9 and 27. The modification status of these lysine residues in canonical H3 proteins plays a critical role in epigenetic determination of gene expression. We mutated histone H3-4 (HTR4), a canonical H3.3 protein that does not increase transformation when overexpressed, by replacing either or both K9 and K27 with the amino acids in HTR11 (either K9I, K27Q, or both). Overexpression of HTR4 with the K27Q but not the K9I substitution enhanced transformation. HTR4ᴷ²⁷Q was incorporated into chromatin, and HTR4ᴷ²⁷Q overexpression lines exhibited deregulated expression of H3K27me3-enriched genes. These results demonstrate that mutation of K27 in H3.3 is sufficient to perturb H3K27me3-dependent expression in plants as in animals and suggest a distinct epigenetic role for histone HTR11. Further, these observations implicate manipulation of H3K27me3-dependent gene expression as a novel strategy to increase transformation susceptibility.