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Plant Physiol. 2006 Nov;142(3):1160-8. Epub 2006 Sep 29.

Regulation of seed size by hypomethylation of maternal and paternal genomes.

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  • 1Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification of cytosine that is important for silencing gene transcription and transposons, gene imprinting, development, and seed viability. DNA METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1) is the primary maintenance DNA methyltransferase in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Reciprocal crosses between antisense MET1 transgenic and wild-type plants show that DNA hypomethylation has a parent-of-origin effect on seed size. However, due to the dominant nature of the antisense MET1 transgene, the parent with a hypomethylated genome, its gametophyte, and both the maternal and paternal genomes of the F(1) seed become hypomethylated. Thus, the distinct role played by hypomethylation at each generation is not known. To address this issue, we examined F(1) seed from reciprocal crosses using a loss-of-function recessive null allele, met1-6. Crosses between wild-type and homozygous met1-6 parents show that hypomethylated maternal and paternal genomes result in significantly larger and smaller F(1) seeds, respectively. Our analysis of crosses between wild-type and heterozygous MET1/met1-6 parents revealed that hypomethylation in the female or male gametophytic generation was sufficient to influence F(1) seed size. A recessive mutation in another gene that dramatically reduces DNA methylation, DECREASE IN DNA METHYLATION1, also causes parent-of-origin effects on F(1) seed size. By contrast, recessive mutations in genes that regulate a smaller subset of DNA methylation (CHROMOMETHYLASE3 and DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASES1 and 2) had little effect on seed size. Collectively, these results show that maternal and paternal genomes play distinct roles in the regulation of seed size in Arabidopsis.

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