Local Rather than Global H3K27me3 Dynamics Are Associated with Differential Gene Expression in Verticillium dahliae

H Martin Kramer, Michael F Seidl, Bart P H J Thomma, David E Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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, 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0356621
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalmBio
Volume13
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • epigenetics
  • fungus
  • histone modification
  • transcription

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