Plant programmed cell death from a chromatin point of view

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Abstract

Programmed cell death (PCD) is a ubiquitous genetically regulated process consisting of the activation of finely controlled signalling pathways that lead to cellular suicide. PCD can be part of a developmental programme (dPCD) or be triggered by environmental conditions (ePCD). In plant cells, as in animal cells, extensive chromatin condensation and degradation of the nuclear DNA are among the most conspicuous features of cells undergoing PCD. Changes in chromatin condensation could either reflect the structural changes required for internucleosomal fragmentation of nuclear DNA or relate to large-scale chromatin rearrangements associated with a major transcriptional switch occurring during cell death. The aim of this review is to give an update on plant PCD processes from a chromatin point of view. The first part will be dedicated to chromatin conformational changes associated with cell death observed in various developmental and physiological conditions, whereas the second part will be devoted to histone dynamics and DNA modifications associated with critical changes in genome expression during the cell death process.

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