Plant-specific histone deacetylases associate with ARGONAUTE4 to promote heterochromatin stabilization and plant heat tolerance

Fangfang Yang, Yingnan Sun, Xiaoxuan Du, Zhaohui Chu, Xuehua Zhong, Xiangsong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High temperature causes devasting effects on many aspects of plant cells and thus enhancing plant heat tolerance is critical for crop production. Emerging studies have revealed the important roles of chromatin modifications in heat stress responses. However, how chromatin is regulated during heat stress remains unclear. We show that heat stress results in heterochromatin disruption coupled with histone hyperacetylation and DNA hypomethylation. Two plant-specific histone deacetylases HD2B and HD2C could promote DNA methylation and relieve the heat-induced heterochromatin decondensation. We noted that most DNA methylation regulated by HD2B and HD2C is lost upon heat stress. HD2B- and HD2C-regulated histone acetylation and DNA methylation are dispensable for heterochromatin maintenance under normal conditions, but critical for heterochromatin stabilization under heat stress. We further showed that HD2B and HD2C promoted DNA methylation through associating with ARGONAUTE4 in nucleoli and Cajal bodies, and facilitating its nuclear accumulation. Thus, HD2B and HD2C act both canonically and noncanonically to stabilize heterochromatin under heat stress. This study not only reveals a novel plant-specific crosstalk between histone deacetylases and key factor of DNA methylation pathway, but also uncovers their new roles in chromatic regulation of plant heat tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-269
Number of pages18
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • DNA methylation
  • heat tolerance
  • heterochromatin
  • histone deacetylases


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