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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2005 Jul;43(7):681-91.

DNA methylating and demethylating treatments modify phenotype and cell wall differentiation state in sugarbeet cell lines.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biologie des Ligneux et des Grandes Cultures, UPRES EA, 1207, rue de Chartres, BP 6759, Faculté des Sciences, Université d'Orléans, 45067 Orléans cedex 2, France.


In plants organogenesis, cell differentiation and dedifferentiation are fundamental processes allowing high developmental plasticity. Such plasticity involved epigenetic mechanisms but limited knowledge is available concerning quantitative aspects. Three sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L. altissima) cell lines originating from the same mother plant and exhibiting graduate states of morphogenesis were used to assess whether these differences could be related or not to changes in DNA methylation levels. Methylcytosine percentages from 18.3 to 28.8% and distinct levels of DNA methyltransferase (EC activities were shown in the three cell lines. The lowest methylcytosine percentage was associated to organogenesis. In order to test the plasticity of these cell lines, various treatments causing DNA hypo or hypermethylation were performed at different times and concentrations. In this collection of treated lines with+/-10% of methylcytosine percentages, loss of organogenic properties and cell dedifferentiation were observed. As cell wall formation fits well with cell differentiation state, the lignification process was further investigated in treated and untreated lines as a biochemical marker of the phenotypic changes. For example, peroxidase specific activities (EC varied from 0.7 to 0.02 pkat mg(-1) of protein in organogenic and dedifferentiated lines, respectively. A negative relationship between peroxidase activities, incorporation of cell wall-bound phenolic compounds as ferulate and sinapate derivatives and methylcytosine percentages was obtained. This is the first biochemical evidence that phenotypic changes in plant cells induced by DNA hypo- or hypermethylating treatments are correlated in a linear relationship to modifications of the cell wall differentiation state.

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