H2AK121ub in Arabidopsis associates with a less accessible chromatin state at transcriptional regulation hotspots

Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 12;12(1):315. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20614-1.


Although it is well established that the Polycomb Group (PcG) complexes maintain gene repression through the incorporation of H2AK121ub and H3K27me3, little is known about the effect of these modifications on chromatin accessibility, which is fundamental to understand PcG function. Here, by integrating chromatin accessibility, histone marks and expression analyses in different Arabidopsis PcG mutants, we show that PcG function regulates chromatin accessibility. We find that H2AK121ub is associated with a less accessible but still permissive chromatin at transcriptional regulation hotspots. Accessibility is further reduced by EMF1 acting in collaboration with PRC2 activity. Consequently, H2AK121ub/H3K27me3 marks are linked to inaccessible although responsive chromatin. In contrast, only-H3K27me3-marked chromatin is less responsive, indicating that H2AK121ub-marked hotspots are required for transcriptional responses. Nevertheless, despite the loss of PcG activities leads to increased chromatin accessibility, this is not necessarily accompanied by transcriptional activation, indicating that accessible chromatin is not always predictive of gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / metabolism
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Ubiquitin