Chromatin is a macromolecular complex where DNA associates with histone proteins and a variety of non-histone proteins. Among the 4 histone types present in nucleosomes, histone H3 is encoded by a large number of genes in most eukaryotic species and is the histone that contains the largest variety of potential post-translational modifications in the N-terminal amino acid residues. In addition to centromeric histone H3, 2 major types of histone H3 exist, namely the canonical H3.1 and the variant H3.3. In this article, we review the most recent observations on the distinctive features of plant H3 proteins in terms of their expression and dynamics during the cell cycle and at various developmental stages. We also include a discussion on the histone H3 chaperones that actively participate in H3 deposition, in particular CAF-1, HIRA and ASF1, and on the putative plant homologs of human ATRX and DEK chaperones. Accumulating evidence confirms that the balanced deposition of H3.1 and H3.3 is of primary relevance for cell differentiation during plant organogenesis.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.