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Genome. 2011 Jan;54(1):42-9. doi: 10.1139/G10-091.

Massive alterations of the methylation patterns around DNA transposons in the first four generations of a newly formed wheat allohexaploid.

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Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


Rapid and reproducible genomic changes can be induced during the early stages of the life of nascent allopolyploid species. In a previous study, it was shown that following allopolyploidization, cytosine methylation changes can affect up to 11% of the wheat genome. However, the methylation patterns around transposable elements (TEs) were never studied in detail. We used transposon methylation display (TMD) to assess the methylation patterns of CCGG sites flanking three TE families (Balduin, Apollo, and Thalos) in the first four generations of a newly formed wheat allohexaploid. In addition, transposon display (TD), using a methylation-insensitive restriction enzyme, was applied to search for genomic rearrangements at the TE insertion sites. We observed that up to 54% of CCGG sites flanking the three TE families showed changes in methylation patterns in the first four generations of a newly formed wheat allohexaploid, where hypermethylation was predominant. Over 70% of the changes in TMD patterns occurred in the first two generations of the newly formed allohexaploid. Furthermore, analysis of 555 TE insertion sites by TD and 18 cases by site-specific PCR revealed a full additive pattern in the allohexaploid, an indication for lack of massive rearrangements. These data indicate that following allopolyplodization, DNA-TE insertion sites can undergo a significantly high level of methylation changes compared with methylation changes of other genomic sequences.

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