Epigenetic features improve TALE target prediction

authored by
Annett Erkes, Stefanie Mücke, Maik Reschke, Jens Boch, Jan Grau

BACKGROUND: The yield of many crop plants can be substantially reduced by plant-pathogenic Xanthomonas bacteria. The infection strategy of many Xanthomonas strains is based on transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs), which are secreted into the host cells and act as transcriptional activators of plant genes that are beneficial for the bacteria.The modular DNA binding domain of TALEs contains tandem repeats, each comprising two hyper-variable amino acids. These repeat-variable diresidues (RVDs) bind to their target box and determine the specificity of a TALE.All available tools for the prediction of TALE targets within the host plant suffer from many false positives. In this paper we propose a strategy to improve prediction accuracy by considering the epigenetic state of the host plant genome in the region of the target box.

RESULTS: To this end, we extend our previously published tool PrediTALE by considering two epigenetic features: (i) chromatin accessibility of potentially bound regions and (ii) DNA methylation of cytosines within target boxes. Here, we determine the epigenetic features from publicly available DNase-seq, ATAC-seq, and WGBS data in rice.We benchmark the utility of both epigenetic features separately and in combination, deriving ground-truth from RNA-seq data of infections studies in rice. We find an improvement for each individual epigenetic feature, but especially the combination of both.Having established an advantage in TALE target predicting considering epigenetic features, we use these data for promoterome and genome-wide scans by our new tool EpiTALE, leading to several novel putative virulence targets.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that it would be worthwhile to collect condition-specific chromatin accessibility data and methylation information when studying putative virulence targets of Xanthomonas TALEs.

Institute of Plant Genetics
External Organisation(s)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Genetics, Biotechnology
Electronic version(s)
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-021-08210-z (Access: Open)