Dvořák Tomaštíková E. et al.
The Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) is well-known for its role in controlling developmental transitions by suppressing the premature expression of key developmental regulators. Previous work revealed that PRC2 also controls the onset of senescence, a form of developmental programmed cell death (PCD) in plants. Whether the induction of PCD in response to stress is similarly suppressed by the PRC2 remained largely unknown. In this study, we explored whether PCD triggered in response to immunity- and disease-promoting pathogen effectors is associated with changes in the distribution of the PRC2-mediated histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) modification in Arabidopsis thaliana. We furthermore tested the distribution of the heterochromatic histone mark H3K9me2, which is established, to a large extent, by the H3K9 methyltransferase KRYPTONITE, and occupies chromatin regions generally not targeted by PRC2. We report that effector-induced PCD caused major changes in the distribution of both repressive epigenetic modifications and that both modifications have a regulatory role and impact on the onset of PCD during pathogen infection. Our work highlights that the transition to pathogen-induced PCD is epigenetically controlled, revealing striking similarities to developmental PCD.