In eukaryotic cells, histones are subject to a large number of posttranslational modifications whose sequential or combinatorial action affects chromatin structure and genome function. We identified acetylation at Lys-36 in histone H3 (H3K36ac) as a new chromatin modification in plants. The H3K36ac modification is evolutionary conserved in seed plants, including the gymnosperm Norway spruce (Picea abies) and the angiosperms rice (Oryza sativa), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). In Arabidopsis, H3K36ac is highly enriched in euchromatin but not in heterochromatin. Genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing experiments revealed that H3K36ac peaks at the 5' end of genes, mainly on the two nucleosomes immediately distal to the transcription start site, independently of gene length. H3K36ac overlaps with H3K4me3 and the H2A.Z histone variant. The histone acetyl transferase GCN5 and the histone deacetylase HDA19 are required for H3K36ac homeostasis. H3K36ac and H3K36me3 show negative crosstalk, which is mediated by GCN5 and the histone methyl transferase SDG8. Although H3K36ac is associated with gene activity, we did not find a linear relationship between H3K36ac and transcript levels, suggesting that H3K36ac is a binary indicator of transcription.
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