|A Histone Code Reader and a Transcriptional Activator Interact to Regulate Genes for Salt Tolerance
Wei Wei, Jianjun Tao, Haowei Chen, Qingtian Li, Wanke Zhang, Biao Ma, Qing Lin, Jinsong Zhang, Shouyi Chen
Plant homeodomain (PHD) finger proteins are involved in various developmental processes and stress responses. They recognize and bind to epigenetically modified histone H3 'tail' and function as 'histone code readers'. Here we report that GmPHD6 reads low methylated histone H3K4me0/1/2 but not H3K4me3 with its N-terminal domain instead of the PHD finger. GmPHD6 does not possess transcriptional regulatory ability but has DNA-binding ability. Through the PHD finger, GmPHD6 interacts with its co-activator, LHP1-1/2 to form a transcriptional activation complex. Using a transgenic hairy root system, we demonstrate that over-expression of GmPHD6 improves stress tolerance in soybean plants. Knocking down the LHP1 expression disrupts this role of GmPHD6, indicating that GmPHD6 requires LHP1 functions during stress response. GmPHD6 influences expression of dozens of stress-related genes. Among these, we identified three targets of GmPHD6, including ASR (ABA-stress-ripening induced), CYP75B1 and CYP82C4. Overexpression of each gene confers stress tolerance in soybean plants. GmPHD6 is recruited to H3K4me0/1/2 marks and recognizes the G-rich elements in target gene promoters，while LHP1 activates expression of these targets. Our study reveals a mechanism involving two partners in a complex. Manipulation of the genes in this pathway should improve stress tolerance in soybean or other legumes/crops.