Methylation of histone lysine residues plays an essential role in epigenetic regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes. Enzymes involved in establishment of the repressive H3K9 and H3K27 methylation marks have been previously characterized, but the deposition and function of H3K4 and H3K36 methylation remain uncharacterized in rice. Here, we report that rice SDG725 encodes a H3K36 methyltransferase, and its down-regulation causes wide-ranging defects, including dwarfism, shortened internodes, erect leaves and small seeds. These defects resemble the phenotypes previously described for some brassinosteroid-knockdown mutants. Consistently, transcriptome analyses revealed that SDG725 depletion results in down-regulation by more than two-fold of over 1000 genes, including D11, BRI1 and BU1, which are known to be involved in brassinosteroid biosynthesis or signaling pathways. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed that levels of H3K36me2/3 are reduced in chromatin at some regions of these brassinosteroid-related genes in SDG725 knockdown plants, and that SDG725 protein is able to directly bind to these target genes. Taken together, our data indicate that SDG725-mediated H3K36 methylation modulates brassinosteroid-related gene expression, playing an important role in rice plant growth and development.
© 2011 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.