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Theor Appl Genet. 2004 Jun;109(1):200-9. Epub 2004 Apr 8.

Activation of a rice endogenous retrotransposon Tos17 in tissue culture is accompanied by cytosine demethylation and causes heritable alteration in methylation pattern of flanking genomic regions.

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Laboratory of Epigenetics, Institute of Genetics and Cytology, Northeast Normal University, 130024 Changchun, China.


Tos17 is a copia-like, cryptic retrotransposon of rice, but can be activated by tissue culture. To study possible epigenetic mechanism controlling activity of Tos17, we subjected three rice lines (the parental line cv. Matsumae and two introgression lines, RZ2 and RZ35) that harbor different copies of the element to tissue culture. For each line, we investigated transcription and transposition of Tos17 in seed plants, calli and regenerated plants, cytosine-methylation status at CG and CNG positions within Tos17, effect of 5-azacytidine on methylation status and activity of Tos17, and cytosine-methylation states in genomic regions flanking original and some newly transposed copies of Tos17 in calli and regenerated plants. We found that only in introgression line RZ35 was Tos17 transcriptionally activated and temporarily mobilized by tissue culture, which was followed by repression before or upon plant regeneration. The activity and inactivity of Tos17 in calli and regenerated plants of RZ35 are accompanied by hypo- and hyper-CG methylation and hemi- and full CNG methylation, respectively, within the element, whereas immobilization of the element in the other two lines is concomitant with near-constant, full hypermethylation. Treatment with 5-azacytidine induced both CG and CNG partial hypomethylation of Tos17 in two lines (Matsumae and RZ35), which, however, was not accompanied by activation of Tos17 in any line. Heritable alteration in cytosine-methylation patterns occurred in three of seven genomic regions flanking Tos17 in calli and regenerated plants of RZ35, but in none of the five regions flanking dormant Tos17 in the other two lines.

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