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Planta. 2008 Aug;228(3):391-9. doi: 10.1007/s00425-008-0743-z. Epub 2008 May 17.

Tissue dependent variations of DNA methylation and endoreduplication levels during tomato fruit development and ripening.

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INRA, UMR 619, BP 81, 33883, Villenave d'Ornon, France.


Tomato fruit cells are characterized by a strong increase in nuclear ploidy during fruit development. Average ploidy levels increased to similar levels (above 50C) in two distinct fruit tissues, pericarp and locular tissue. However, ploidy profiles differed significantly between these two tissues suggesting a tissue-specific control of endoreduplication in tomato fruit. To determine possible relationships between endoreduplication and epigenetic mechanisms, the methylation status of genomic DNA from pericarp and locular tissue of tomato fruit was analysed. Pericarp genomic DNA was characterized by an increase of CG and/or CNG methylation at the 5S and 18S rDNA loci and at gyspsy-like retrotransposon sequences during fruit growth. A sharp decrease of the global DNA methylation level together with a reduction of methylation at the rDNA loci was also observed in pericarp during fruit ripening. Inversely, no major variation of DNA methylation either global or locus-specific, was observed in locular tissue. Thus, tissue-specific variations of DNA methylation are unlikely to be triggered by the induction of endoreduplication in fruit tissues, but may reflect tissue-specific ploidy profiles. Expression analysis of eight putative tomato DNA methyltransferases encoding genes showed that one chromomethylase (CMT) and two rearranged methyltransferases (DRMs) are preferentially expressed in the pericarp during fruit growth and could be involved in the locus-specific increase of methylation observed at this developmental phase in the pericarp.

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