Jumonji C (JmjC) domain-containing proteins are a group of functionally conserved histone lysine demethylases in Eukaryotes. Growing evidences have shown that JmjCs epigenetically regulate various biological processes in plants. However, their roles in plant biotic stress, especially in rice bacterial blight resistance have been barely studied so far.
In this study, we found that the global di- and tri-methylation levels on multiple lysine sites of histone three were dramatically altered after being infected by bacterial blight pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo). Xoo infection induced the transcription of 15 JmjCs, suggesting these JmjCs are involved in rice bacterial blight defense. Further functional characterization of JmjC mutants revealed that JMJ704 is a positive regulator of rice bacterial blight resistance as the jmj704 became more susceptible to Xoo than the wild-type. In jmj704, the H3K4me2/3 levels were significantly increased; suggesting JMJ704 may be involved in H3K4me2/3 demethylation. Moreover, JMJ704 suppressed the transcription of the rice defense negative regulator genes, such as NRR, OsWRKY62 and Os-11N3, by reducing the activation marks H3K4me2/3 on them.
JMJ704 may be a universal switch controlling multiple genes of the bacterial blight resistance pathway. JMJ704 positively regulates rice defense by epigenetically suppressing master negative defense regulators, presenting a novel mechanism distinct from its homolog JMJ705 which also positively regulates rice defense but via activating positive defense regulators.