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Dev Cell. 2004 Nov;7(5):653-62.

MicroRNA binding sites in Arabidopsis class III HD-ZIP mRNAs are required for methylation of the template chromosome.

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Program in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Dominant mutations in the Arabidopsis PHABULOSA (PHB) and PHAVOLUTA (PHV) transcription factor genes cause transformation of abaxial to adaxial leaf fates by altering a microRNA complementary site present in processed PHB and PHV mRNAs but not in the corresponding genomic DNA. phb-1d mutants accumulate excess PHB transcript throughout the leaf primordium, indicating defective regulation of PHB transcript synthesis and/or stability. We show that PHB and PHV coding sequences are heavily methylated downstream of the microRNA complementary site in most wild-type plant cells and that methylation is reduced in phb-1d and phv-1d mutants. Decreased methylation is limited to the chromosome bearing the dominant mutant allele in phb-1d heterozygotes. Low levels of methylation are detected in wt PHB DNA isolated from undifferentiated tissues. These results suggest a model in which the microRNA interacts with nascent, newly processed PHB mRNA to alter chromatin of the corresponding PHB template DNA predominantly in differentiated cells.

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