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Plant Mol Biol. 2008 Mar;66(5):551-63. doi: 10.1007/s11103-008-9290-z. Epub 2008 Jan 26.

Genome-wide allele-specific expression analysis using Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS) reveals cis- and trans-effects on gene expression in maize hybrid meristem tissue.

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Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., A DuPont Business, Johnston, IA, 50131-0552, USA.


Allelic differences in expression are important genetic factors contributing to quantitative trait variation in various organisms. However, the extent of genome-wide allele-specific expression by different modes of gene regulation has not been well characterized in plants. In this study we developed a new methodology for allele-specific expression analysis by applying Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS), an open ended and sequencing based mRNA profiling technology. This methodology enabled a genome-wide evaluation of cis- and trans-effects on allelic expression in six meristem stages of the maize hybrid. Summarization of data from nearly 400 pairs of MPSS allelic signature tags showed that 60% of the genes in the hybrid meristems exhibited differential allelic expression. Because both alleles are subjected to the same trans-acting factors in the hybrid, the data suggest the abundance of cis-regulatory differences in the genome. Comparing the same allele expressed in the hybrid versus its inbred parents showed that 40% of the genes were differentially expressed, suggesting different trans-acting effects present in different genotypes. Such trans-acting effects may result in gene expression in the hybrid different from allelic additive expression. With this approach we quantified gene expression in the hybrid relative to its inbred parents at the allele-specific level. As compared to measuring total transcript levels, this study provides a new level of understanding of different modes of gene regulation in the hybrid and the molecular basis of heterosis.

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