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Cell. 2002 Jul 12;110(1):33-42.

DEMETER, a DNA glycosylase domain protein, is required for endosperm gene imprinting and seed viability in arabidopsis.

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


We isolated mutations in Arabidopsis to understand how the female gametophyte controls embryo and endosperm development. For the DEMETER (DME) gene, seed viability depends only on the maternal allele. DME encodes a large protein with DNA glycosylase and nuclear localization domains. DME is expressed primarily in the central cell of the female gametophyte, the progenitor of the endosperm. DME is required for maternal allele expression of the imprinted MEDEA (MEA) Polycomb gene in the central cell and endosperm. Ectopic DME expression in endosperm activates expression of the normally silenced paternal MEA allele. In leaf, ectopic DME expression induces MEA and nicks the MEA promoter. Thus, a DNA glycosylase activates maternal expression of an imprinted gene in the central cell.

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