H3K4 trimethylation dynamics impact diverse developmental and environmental responses in plants

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The H3K4me3 histone mark in plants functions in the regulation of gene expression and transcriptional memory, and influences numerous developmental processes and stress responses. Plants execute developmental programs and respond to changing environmental conditions via adjustments in gene expression, which are modulated in part by chromatin structure dynamics. Histone modifications alter chromatin in precise ways on a global scale, having the potential to influence the expression of numerous genes. Trimethylation of lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4me3) is a prominent histone modification that is dogmatically associated with gene activity, but more recently has also been linked to gene repression. As in other eukaryotes, the distribution of H3K4me3 in plant genomes suggests it plays a central role in gene expression regulation, however the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Transcript levels of many genes related to flowering, root, and shoot development are affected by dynamic H3K4me3 levels, as are those for a number of stress-responsive and stress memory-related genes. This review examines the current understanding of how H3K4me3 functions in modulating plant responses to developmental and environmental cues.

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