Brusslan JA, Rus Alvarez-Canterbury AM, Nair NU, Rice JC, Hitchler MJ, Pellegrini M
Leaf senescence is the orderly dismantling of older tissue that allows recycling of nutrients to developing portions of the plant and is accompanied by major changes in gene expression. Histone modifications correlate to levels of gene expression, and this study utilizes ChIP-seq to classify activating H3K4me3 and silencing H3K27me3 marks on a genome-wide scale for soil-grown mature and naturally senescent Arabidopsis leaves. ChIPnorm was used to normalize data sets and identify genomic regions with significant differences in the two histone methylation patterns, and the differences were correlated to changes in gene expression. Genes that showed an increase in the H3K4me3 mark in older leaves were senescence up-regulated, while genes that showed a decrease in the H3K4me3 mark in the older leaves were senescence down-regulated. For the H3K27me3 modification, genes that lost the H3K27me3 mark in older tissue were senescence up-regulated. Only a small number of genes gained the H3K27me3 mark, and these were senescence down-regulated. Approximately 50% of senescence up-regulated genes lacked the H3K4me3 mark in both mature and senescent leaf tissue. Two of these genes, SAG12 and At1g73220, display strong senescence up-regulation without the activating H3K4me3 histone modification. This study provides an initial epigenetic framework for the developmental transition into senescence.