The New phytologist

SET DOMAIN GROUP701 encodes a H3K4-methytransferase and regulates multiple key processes of rice plant development.

PMID 28517045


Chromatin-based epigenetic information plays an important role in developmental gene regulation, in response to environment, and in natural variation of gene expression levels. Histone H3 lysine 4 di/trimethylation (H3K4me2/3) is abundant in euchromatin and is generally associated with transcriptional activation. Strikingly, however, enzymes catalyzing H3K4me2/3 remain poorly characterized in crops so far. Here, we investigated the function of the rice SET DOMAIN GROUP 701 (SDG701) gene by molecular and biochemical characterization of the gene product, and by studying effects of its loss or gain of function on plant growth and development. We demonstrated that SDG701 encodes a methytransferase specifically catalyzing H3K4 methylation. Overexpression and knockdown experiments showed that SDG701 is crucial for proper sporophytic plant development as well as for gametophytic transmission that directly impacts rice grain production. In-depth analysis of plant flowering time revealed that SDG701 promotes rice flowering under either long-day or short-day photoperiods. Consistently, the SDG701 protein was found to bind chromatin to promote H3K4me3 and to enhance expression of the rice Hd3a and RFT1 florigens. Collectively, our results establish SDG701 as a major rice H3K4-specific methyltransferase and provide important insights into function of H3K4me3 deposition in transcription activation of florigens in promoting plant flowering.