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Genes Dev. 1999 Nov 15;13(22):2971-82.

Maintenance of genomic imprinting at the Arabidopsis medea locus requires zygotic DDM1 activity.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


In higher plants, seed development requires maternal gene activity in the haploid (gametophytic) as well as diploid (sporophytic) tissues of the developing ovule. The Arabidopsis thaliana gene MEDEA (MEA) encodes a SET-domain protein of the Polycomb group that regulates cell proliferation by exerting a gametophytic maternal control during seed development. Seeds derived from female gametocytes (embryo sacs) carrying a mutant mea allele abort and exhibit cell proliferation defects in both the embryo and the endosperm. In this study we show that the mea mutation affects an imprinted gene expressed maternally in cells of the female gametophyte and after fertilization only from maternally inherited MEA alleles. Paternally inherited MEA alleles are transcriptionally silent in both the young embryo and endosperm. Mutations at the decrease in DNA methylation1 (ddm1) locus are able to rescue mea seeds by functionally reactivating paternally inherited MEA alleles during seed development. Rescued seeds are larger than the wild type and exhibit some of the abnormalities found in aborting mea seeds. Our results indicate that the maintenance of the genomic imprint at the mea locus requires zygotic DDM1 activity. Because DDM1 encodes a putative chromatin remodeling factor, chromatin structure is likely to be interrelated with genomic imprinting in Arabidopsis.

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