Plasticity in the Meiotic Epigenetic Landscape of Sex Chromosomes in Caenorhabditis Species
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.116.191130
During meiosis in the heterogametic sex in some species, sex chromosomes undergo meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI), which results in acquisition of repressive chromatin and transcriptional silencing. In Caenorhabditis elegans, MSCI is mediated by MET-2 methyltransferase deposition of histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation. Here we examined the meiotic chromatin landscape in germ lines of four Caenorhabditis species; C. remanei and C. brenneri represent ancestral gonochorism, while C. briggsae and C. elegans are two lineages that independently evolved hermaphroditism. While MSCI is conserved across all four species, repressive chromatin modifications are distinct and do not correlate with reproductive mode. In contrast to C. elegans and C. remanei germ cells where X chromosomes are enriched for histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation, X chromosomes in C. briggsae and C. brenneri germ cells are enriched for histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation. Inactivation of C. briggsae MET-2 resulted in germ-line X chromosome transcription and checkpoint activation. Further, both histone H3 lysine 9 di- and trimethylation were reduced in Cbr-met-2 mutant germ lines, suggesting that in contrast to C. elegans, H3 lysine 9 di- and trimethylation are interdependent. C. briggsae H3 lysine 9 trimethylation was redistributed in the presence of asynapsed chromosomes in a sex-specific manner in the related process of meiotic silencing of unsynapsed chromatin. However, these repressive marks did not influence X chromosome replication timing. Examination of additional Caenorhabditis species revealed diverse H3 lysine 9 methylation patterns on the X, suggesting that the sex chromosome epigenome evolves rapidly.