Selective, tissue-specific gene expression is facilitated by the epigenetic modification H3K27me3 (trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone H3) in plants and animals. Much remains to be learned about how H3K27me3-enriched chromatin states are constructed and maintained. Here, we identify a genetic interaction in Arabidopsis thaliana between the chromodomain helicase DNA binding chromatin remodeler PICKLE (PKL), which promotes H3K27me3 enrichment, and the SWR1-family remodeler PHOTOPERIOD INDEPENDENT EARLY FLOWERING1 (PIE1), which incorporates the histone variant H2A.Z. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing and RNA-sequencing reveal that PKL, PIE1, and the H3K27 methyltransferase CURLY LEAF act in a common gene expression pathway and are required for H3K27me3 levels genome-wide. Additionally, H3K27me3-enriched genes are largely a subset of H2A.Z-enriched genes, further supporting the functional linkage between these marks. We also found that recombinant PKL acts as a prenucleosome maturation factor, indicating that it promotes retention of H3K27me3. These data support the existence of an epigenetic pathway in which PIE1 promotes H2A.Z, which in turn promotes H3K27me3 deposition. After deposition, PKL promotes retention of H3K27me3 after DNA replication and/or transcription. Our analyses thus reveal roles for H2A.Z and ATP-dependent remodelers in construction and maintenance of H3K27me3-enriched chromatin in plants.
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