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Genes Dev. 2001 Jul 15;15(14):1753-8.

Arabidopsis cmt3 chromomethylase mutations block non-CG methylation and silencing of an endogenous gene.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Plants maintain cytosine methylation at CG and non-CG residues to control gene expression and genome stability. In a screen for Arabidopsis mutants that alter methylation and silencing of a densely methylated endogenous reporter gene, we recovered 11 loss-of-function alleles in the CMT3 chromomethylase gene. The cmt3 mutants displayed enhanced expression and reduced methylation of the reporter, particularly at non-CG cytosines. CNG methylation was also reduced at repetitive centromeric sequences. Thus, CMT3 is a key determinant for non-CG methylation. The lack of CMT homologs in animal genomes could account for the observation that in contrast to plants, animals maintain primarily CG methylation.

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