BackgroundNucleolar rDNA is tightly associated with silent heterochromatin, which is important for rDNA stability, nucleolar integration, and cellular senescence. Two pathways have been described that lead to rDNA silencing in yeast: 1) the RENT (regulator of nucleolar silencing and telophase exit) complex, which is composed of Net1, Sir2, and Cdc14 and is required for Sir2-dependent rDNA silencing; and 2) the Sir2-independent silencing mechanism, which involves the Tof2 and Tof2-copurified complex, made up of Lrs4 and Csm1. Here, we present evidence that changes in histone H3 lysine methylation levels distinctly regulate rDNA silencing by recruiting different silencing proteins to rDNA, thereby contributing to rDNA silencing and nucleolar organization in yeast.ResultsWe found that Lys4, Lys79, and Lys36 methylation within histone H3 acts as a bivalent marker for the regulation of rDNA recombination and RENT complex-mediated rDNA silencing, both of which are Sir2-dependent pathways. By contrast, we found that Jhd2, an evolutionarily conserved JARID1 family H3 Lys4 demethylase, effects all states of methylated H3K4 within the NTS regions of rDNA and that its activity is required for the regulation of rDNA silencing in a Sir2-independent manner. In this context, Jhd2 regulates rDNA recombination through the Tof2/Csm1/Lrs4 pathway and prevents excessive recruitment of Tof2, Csm1/Lrs4 and condensin subunits to the replication fork barrier (RFB) site within the NTS1 region. Our FISH analyses further demonstrate that the demethylase activity of Jhd2 regulates mitotic rDNA condensation and that JHD2-deficient cells contain the mostly hypercondensed rDNA mislocalized away from the nuclear periphery.ConclusionsOur results show that yeast Jhd2, which demethylates histone H3 Lys4 near the rDNA locus, regulates rDNA repeat stability and rDNA silencing in a Sir2-independent manner by maintaining Csm1/Lrs4 and condensin association with rDNA regions during mitosis. These data suggest that Jhd2-mediated alleviation of excessive Csm1/Lrs4 or condensin at the NTS1 region of rDNA is required for the integrity of rDNA repeats and proper rDNA silencing during mitosis.