The MBD-ACD DNA Methylation Reader Complex Recruits MICRORCHIDIA6 to Regulate rRNA Gene Expression in Arabidopsis
Published:11 Jan.2024    Source:The Plant Cell

DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark implicated in selective rRNA gene expression, but the DNA methylation readers and effectors remain largely unknown. Here, we report a protein complex that reads DNA methylation to regulate variant-specific 45S rRNA gene expression in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana).

The complex, consisting of METHYL-CpG-BINDING DOMAIN PROTEIN5 (MBD5), MBD6, ALPHA-CRYSTALLIN DOMAIN PROTEIN15.5 (ACD15.5), and ACD21.4, directly binds to 45S rDNA. While MBD5 and MBD6 function redundantly, ACD15.5 and ACD21.4 are indispensable for variant-specific rRNA gene expression. These four proteins undergo phase separation in vitro and in vivo and are interdependent for their phase separation. The α-crystallin domain of ACD15.5 and ACD21.4, which is essential for their function, enables phase separation of the complex, likely by mediating multivalent protein interactions.

The effector MICRORCHIDIA6 (MORC6) directly interacts with ACD15.5 and ACD21.4, but not with MBD5 and MBD6, and is recruited to 45S rDNA by the MBD–ACD complex to regulate variant-specific 45S rRNA expression. Our study reveals a pathway in Arabidopsis through which certain 45S rRNA gene variants are silenced, while others are activated.