DNA Methylation Signatures of the Plant Chromomethyltransferases.22 May 2018
DNA methylation in plants is traditionally partitioned into CG, CHG and CHH contexts (with H any nucleotide but G). By investigating DNA methylation patterns in trinucleotide contexts in four angiosperm species, we show that such a representation hides spatial and functional partitioning of different methylation pathways and is incomplete. CG methylation (mCG) is largely context-independent whereas, at CHG motifs, there is under-representation of mCCG in pericentric regions of A. thaliana and tomato and throughout the chromosomes of maize and rice. In A. thaliana the biased representation of mCCG in heterochromatin is related to specificities of H3K9 methyltransferase SUVH family members. At CHH motifs there is an over-representation of different variant forms of mCHH that, similarly to mCCG hypomethylation, is partitioned into the pericentric regions of the two dicots but dispersed in the monocot chromosomes. The over-represented mCHH motifs in A. thaliana associate with specific types of transposon including both class I and II elements. At mCHH the contextual bias is due to the involvement of various chromomethyltransferases whereas the context-independent CHH methylation in A. thaliana and tomato is mediated by the RNA-directed DNA methylation process that is most active in the gene-rich euchromatin. This analysis therefore reveals that the sequence context of the methylome of plant genomes is informative about the mechanisms associated with maintenance of methylation and the overlying chromatin structure.