AXR1 affects DNA methylation independently of its role in regulating meiotic crossover localization

Meiotic crossovers (COs) are important for reshuffling genetic information between homologous chromosomes and they are essential for their correct segregation. COs are unevenly distributed along chromosomes and the underlying mechanisms controlling CO localization are not well understood. We previously showed that meiotic COs are mis-localized in the absence of AXR1, an enzyme involved in the neddylation/rubylation protein modification pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we report that in axr1-/-, male meiocytes show a strong defect in chromosome pairing whereas the formation of the telomere bouquet is not affected. COs are also redistributed towards subtelomeric chromosomal ends where they frequently form clusters, in contrast to large central regions depleted in recombination. The CO suppressed regions correlate with DNA hypermethylation of transposable elements (TEs) in the CHH context in axr1-/- meiocytes. Through examining somatic methylomes, we found axr1-/- affects DNA methylation in a plant, causing hypermethylation in all sequence contexts (CG, CHG and CHH) in TEs. Impairment of the main pathways involved in DNA methylation is epistatic over axr1-/- for DNA methylation in somatic cells but does not restore regular chromosome segregation during meiosis. Collectively, our findings reveal that the neddylation pathway not only regulates hormonal perception and CO distribution but is also, directly or indirectly, a major limiting pathway of TE DNA methylation in somatic cells.