Wollmann H, Holec S, Alden K, Clarke ND, Jacques PÉ, Berger F
In animals, replication-coupled histone H3.1 can be distinguished from replication-independent histone H3.3. H3.3 variants are enriched at active genes and their promoters. Furthermore, H3.3 is specifically incorporated upon gene activation. Histone H3 variants evolved independently in plants and animals, and it is unclear whether different replication-independent H3.3 variants developed similar properties in both phyla. We studied Arabidopsis H3 variants in order to find core properties of this class of histones. Here we present genome-wide maps of H3.3 and H3.1 enrichment and the dynamic changes of their profiles upon cell division arrest. We find H3.3 enrichment to positively correlate with gene expression and to be biased towards the transcription termination site. In contrast with H3.1, heterochromatic regions are mostly depleted of H3.3. We report that, in planta, dynamic changes in H3.3 profiles are associated with the extensive remodeling of the transcriptome that occurs during cell differentiation. We propose that H3.3 dynamics are linked to transcription and are involved in resetting covalent histone marks at a genomic scale during plant development. Our study suggests that H3 variants properties likely result from functionally convergent evolution.