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Genetics. 2003 Mar;163(3):1109-22.

Arabidopsis MET1 cytosine methyltransferase mutants.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


We describe the isolation and characterization of two missense mutations in the cytosine-DNA-methyltransferase gene, MET1, from the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Both missense mutations, which affect the catalytic domain of the protein, led to a global reduction of cytosine methylation throughout the genome. Surprisingly, the met1-2 allele, with the weaker DNA hypomethylation phenotype, alters a well-conserved residue in methyltransferase signature motif I. The stronger met1-1 allele caused late flowering and a heterochronic delay in the juvenile-to-adult rosette leaf transition. The distribution of late-flowering phenotypes in a mapping population segregating met1-1 indicates that the flowering-time phenotype is caused by the accumulation of inherited defects at loci unlinked to the met1 mutation. The delay in flowering time is due in part to the formation and inheritance of hypomethylated fwa epialleles, but inherited defects at other loci are likely to contribute as well. Centromeric repeat arrays hypomethylated in met1-1 mutants are partially remethylated when introduced into a wild-type background, in contrast to genomic sequences hypomethylated in ddm1 mutants. ddm1 met1 double mutants were constructed to further our understanding of the mechanism of DDM1 action and the interaction between two major genetic loci affecting global cytosine methylation levels in Arabidopsis.

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