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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 May-Jun;1769(5-6):276-86. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

DNA methylation dynamics in plant genomes.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Cytosine bases are extensively methylated in the DNA of plant genomes. DNA methylation has been implicated in the silencing of transposable elements and genes, and loss of methylation can have severe consequences for the organism. The recent methylation profiling of the entire Arabidopsis genome has provided insight into the extent of DNA methylation and its functions in silencing and gene transcription. Patterns of DNA methylation are faithfully maintained across generations, but some changes in DNA methylation are observed in terminally differentiated tissues. Demethylation by a DNA glycosylase is required for the expression of imprinted genes in the endosperm and de novo methylation might play a role in the selective silencing of certain self-incompatibility alleles in the tapetum. Because DNA methylation patterns are faithfully inherited, changes in DNA methylation that arise somatically during the plant life cycle have the possibility of being propagated. Therefore, epimutations might be an important source of variation during plant evolution.

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