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Plant Mol Biol. 2005 Sep;59(2):289-307.

The methylation cycle and its possible functions in barley endosperm development.

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Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (IPK), Molecular Genetics, Corrensstrasse 3, Gatersleben, 06466, Saxoinia-Anhalt, Germany.


Barley endosperm development can be subdivided into the pre-storage, intermediate, storage and desiccation phase. Nothing is known about DNA methylation events involved in different endosperm-specific developmental programmes. A complete set of methylation cycle enzyme genes was identified and investigated by mRNA expression analysis. During the pre-storage phase, methionine synthase and S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) synthase genes are expressed at high levels, mainly to produce AdoMet, which might be used for methylation processes as indicated by high expression of methyltransferases HvMET1, HvCMT1 and HvDnmt3-1 as well as AdoHcy hydrolase genes. The methyltransferases, core histones and DNA-unwinding ATPases are co-expressed at the mRNA level. On the contrary, storage protein (prolamin) gene expression is repressed due to CpG methylation. Expression of genes responsible for starch biosynthesis is also developmentally regulated but not methylation-dependent. Thus, during pre-storage phase, activity of HvMET1 and HvCMT1 possibly maintains DNA replication and suppresses specific pathways of maturation. Besides, HvDnmt3-1 might be responsible for differentiation-specific de novo methylation. Expression of methyltransferases HvDnmt3-2 and HvCMT2 peaks during the onset of massive starch accumulation. The enzymes are likely responsible for DNA methylation involved in determining plastid division and amyloplast differentiation as concluded from the patterns of co-expressed genes. Levels of AdoMet decarboxylase mRNA, but not methyltransferase- and AdoHcy mRNA, increase at the beginning of desiccation together with methionine synthase and AdoMet synthase levels. This increase may be indicative for utilization of AdoMet in polyamine production protecting aleuron and embryo cell membranes during desiccation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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