Nucleic Acids Res. 49 (8) 4371-4385 [2021-05-07; online 2021-03-22]
Higher-order chromatin structure undergoes striking changes in response to various developmental and environmental signals, causing distinct cell types to adopt specific chromatin organization. High throughput chromatin conformation capture (Hi-C) allows studying higher-order chromatin structure; however, this technique requires substantial amounts of starting material, which has limited the establishment of cell type-specific higher-order chromatin structure in plants. To overcome this limitation, we established a protocol that is applicable to a limited amount of nuclei by combining the INTACT (isolation of nuclei tagged in specific cell types) method and Hi-C (INT-Hi-C). Using this INT-Hi-C protocol, we generated Hi-C data from INTACT purified endosperm and leaf nuclei. Our INT-Hi-C data from leaf accurately reiterated chromatin interaction patterns derived from conventional leaf Hi-C data. We found that the higher-order chromatin organization of mixed leaf tissues and endosperm differs and that DNA methylation and repressive histone marks positively correlate with the chromatin compaction level. We furthermore found that self-looped interacting genes have increased expression in leaves and endosperm and that interacting intergenic regions negatively impact on gene expression in the endosperm. Last, we identified several imprinted genes involved in long-range and trans interactions exclusively in endosperm. Our study provides evidence that the endosperm adopts a distinct higher-order chromatin structure that differs from other cell types in plants and that chromatin interactions influence transcriptional activity.