Hybrid seed lethality as a consequence of interspecies or interploidy hybridizations is a major mechanism of reproductive isolation in plants. This mechanism is manifested in the endosperm, a dosage-sensitive tissue supporting embryo growth. Deregulated expression of imprinted genes such as ADMETOS (ADM) underpin the interploidy hybridization barrier in Arabidopsis thaliana; however, the mechanisms of their action remained unknown. In this study, we show that ADM interacts with the AT hook domain protein AHL10 and the SET domain-containing SU(VAR)3-9 homolog SUVH9 and ectopically recruits the heterochromatic mark H3K9me2 to AT-rich transposable elements (TEs), causing deregulated expression of neighboring genes. Several hybrid incompatibility genes identified in Drosophila encode for dosage-sensitive heterochromatin-interacting proteins, which has led to the suggestion that hybrid incompatibilities evolve as a consequence of interspecies divergence of selfish DNA elements and their regulation. Our data show that imbalance of dosage-sensitive chromatin regulators underpins the barrier to interploidy hybridization in Arabidopsis, suggesting that reproductive isolation as a consequence of epigenetic regulation of TEs is a conserved feature in animals and plants.
Keywords: endosperm; heterochromatin; hybrid incompatibility; imprinted genes; polyploidy; transposable elements.
© 2017 Jiang et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.