Deposition of the H2A.Z histone variant by the SWR1 complex (SWR1-C) in regulatory regions of specific loci modulates transcription. Characterization of mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana homologs of yeast SWR1-C has revealed a role for H2A.Z exchange in a variety of developmental processes. Nevertheless, the exact composition of plant SWR1-C and how it is recruited to target genes remains to be established. Here we show that SWC4, the Arabidopsis homolog of yeast SANT domain protein Swc4/Eaf2, is a DNA-binding protein that interacts with SWR1-C subunits. We demonstrate that the swc4-1 knockout mutant is embryo-lethal, while SWC4 RNAi knockdown lines display pleiotropic phenotypic alterations in vegetative and reproductive traits, including acceleration of flowering time, indicating that SWC4 controls post-embryonic processes. Transcriptomic analyses and genome-wide profiling of H2A.Z indicate that SWC4 represses transcription of a number of genes, including the floral integrator FT and key transcription factors, mainly by modulating H2A.Z deposition. Interestingly, SWC4 silencing does not affect H2A.Z deposition at the FLC locus nor expression of this gene, a master regulator of flowering previously shown to be controlled by SWR1-C. Importantly, we find that SWC4 recognizes specific AT-rich DNA elements in the chromatin regions of target genes and that SWC4 silencing impairs SWR1-C binding at FT. Collectively, our data suggest that SWC4 regulates plant growth and development by aiding SWR1-C recruitment and modulating H2A.Z deposition.
Keywords: Arabidopsis; H2A.Z deposition; SWC4; SWR1 complex; chromatin; flowering time.
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