DNA methylation in an intron of the IBM1 histone demethylase gene stabilizes chromatin modification patterns

EMBO J. 2012 Jun 29;31(13):2981-93. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2012.141. Epub 2012 May 11.


The stability of epigenetic patterns is critical for genome integrity and gene expression. This highly coordinated process involves interrelated positive and negative regulators that impact distinct epigenetic marks, including DNA methylation and dimethylation at histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2). In Arabidopsis, mutations in the DNA methyltransferase MET1, which maintains CG methylation, result in aberrant patterns of other epigenetic marks, including ectopic non-CG methylation and the relocation of H3K9me2 from heterochromatin into gene-rich chromosome regions. Here, we show that the expression of the H3K9 demethylase IBM1 (increase in BONSAI methylation 1) requires DNA methylation. Surprisingly, the regulatory methylated region is contained in an unusually large intron that is conserved in IBM1 orthologues. The re-establishment of IBM1 expression in met1 mutants restored the wild-type H3K9me2 nuclear patterns, non-CG DNA methylation and transcriptional patterns at selected loci, which included DNA demethylase genes. These results provide a mechanistic explanation for long-standing puzzling observations in met1 mutants and reveal yet another layer of control in the interplay between DNA methylation and histone modification, which stabilizes DNA methylation patterns at genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histone Demethylases / genetics*
  • Introns
  • Jumonji Domain-Containing Histone Demethylases


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histone Demethylases
  • IBM1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Jumonji Domain-Containing Histone Demethylases
  • Histone Deacetylases