ONSEN shows different transposition activities in RdDM pathway mutants.

Yui Hayashi, Kanako Takehira, Kosuke Nozawa, Takamasa Suzuki, Yukari Masuta, Atsushi Kato, Hidetaka Ito

Most transposable elements (TEs) are tightly regulated by epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is a major control mechanism of TE silencing in plants. We analyzed the transposition activity of a heat-responsive retrotransposon, ONSEN, in Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenerational transposition was observed in RdDM pathway-deficient mutants upon heat stress. The transposition frequency was higher in the mutants of the upstream processes, but lower in the mutants of the downstream steps, of RdDM. The transposition frequency was not associated with the number of extrachromosomal ONSEN copies. Constitutive heterochromatin of interphase nuclei was dispersed upon heat stress. The degree of decondensation was higher in the RdDM mutants than in wild-type plants subjected to heat stress. We discuss the possible role of RdDM in the regulation of ONSEN transposition upon heat stress.