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Cell. 2008 Mar 7;132(5):735-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.02.018.

Cellular programming of plant gene imprinting.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Gene imprinting, the differential expression of maternal and paternal alleles, independently evolved in mammals and in flowering plants. A unique feature of flowering plants is a double-fertilization event in which the sperm fertilize not only the egg, which forms the embryo, but also the central cell, which develops into the endosperm (an embryo-supporting tissue). The distinctive mechanisms of gene imprinting in the endosperm, which involve DNA demethylation and histone methylation, begin in the central cell and sperm prior to fertilization. Flowering plants might have coevolved double fertilization and imprinting to prevent parthenogenetic development of the endosperm.

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