FY2011 Annual Report

Plant Epigenetics Unit

Assistant Professor Hidetoshi Saze


Genomes of higher eukaryotes contain many transposable elements (TEs), which are generally associated with repressive epigenetic modifications such as DNA cytosine methylation, small RNA production, and modifications of histone proteins. The epigenetic marks, often called heterochromatic epigenetic modifications, are essential for efficient inactivation of TEs. We are exploring the underlying molecular mechanisms of the regulation of heterochromatic epigenetic modifications by using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Our unit started in OIST from September 2011, focusing on epigenetic factors that regulate proper distributions of epigenetic modifications between genes and TEs. 

1. Staff

  • Hidetoshi Saze, Assistant Professor
  • Yoshiko Harukawa, Technical Staff
  • Saori Miura, Technical Staff
  • Yoko Fujitomi, Research Administrator

2. Collaborations

Nothing to report

3. Activities and Findings

 Since September 2011, we are trying to establish our experimental environment by installing plant growth systems that are essential for cultivation of plants. In our unit, we have started several research projects including screening of Arabidopsis mutants that affect epigenetic modifications and development. In addition, epigenetic factors involving control of heterochromatic modifications are being dissected in more detail. We are also trying to introduce our research to researchers both within and outside of OIST, as well as to local community or students in Okinawa. 

4. Publications

4.1 Journals

Peer-reviewed publications  
  • Sasaki T, Kobayashi A, Saze H, Kakutani T. (2012) RNAi-independent de novo DNA methylation revealed in Arabidopsis mutants of a chromatin remodeling gene DDM1. Plant J., 70(5): 750-758.

Other Publications
  • (Review) Saze, H. (2012). Transgenerational Inheritance of Induced Changes in the Epigenetic State of Chromatin in Plants. Genes Genet Systems, in press.
  • (Review) Saze, H, Tsugane K, Kanno T and Nishimura T. (2012). DNA Methylation in Plants: Relationship with Small RNAs and Histone Modifications, and Functions in Transposon Inactivation. Plant Cell & Physiol., 53(5): 766-84.
  • (Review) Saze, H and Kakutani T. (2011) Differentiation of epigenetic modifications between transposons and genes. Curr Opin Plant Biol., 14(1):81-7.


4.2 Books and other one-time publications

Nothing to report

4.3 Oral and Poster Presentations

Symposium co-organizer/speaker
  • Tamada Y and Saze H. Symposium: Response to environmental/developmental signals and regulation of epigenetic state of chromatin. Regulation of Intragenic Heterochromatin in Arabidopsis thaliana. The 53rd Annual Meeting of The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists, Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, Japan. March 16, 2012.
Invited presentation
  • Saze H. Symposium: Plant Stress Research Symposium. Epigenetic regulation of Heterochromatin and Stress Response. Kurashiki-ai-theater, Okayama, Japan. March 8, 2012. 
  •  Saze H. Regulation of Heterochromatic Epigenetic modifications in Genic regions in Arabidopsis. University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. May 30, 2011.

5. Intellectual Property Rights and Other Specific Achievements


  • Genetics Society of Japan Young Investigator Award (2011)
  • Young Scientist’s Prize, Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (2012)

6. Meetings and Events

Nothing to report

7. Other

Nothing to report