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Plant J. 2012 Aug;71(4):564-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2012.05009.x. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

A null mutation of ROS1a for DNA demethylation in rice is not transmittable to progeny.

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National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan.


Genes that promote DNA methylation and demethylation in plants have been characterized mainly in Arabidopsis. Arabidopsis DNA demethylation is mediated by bi-functional DNA enzymes with glycosylase activity that removes 5-methylcytosine and lyase activity that nicks double-stranded DNA at an abasic site. Homologous recombination-promoted knock-in targeting of the ROS1a gene, the longest of six putative DNA demethylase genes in the rice genome, by fusing its endogenous promoter to the GUS reporter gene, led to reproducibly disrupted ROS1a in primary (T(0)) transgenic plants in the heterozygous condition. These T(0) plants exhibited no overt morphological phenotypes during the vegetative phase, and GUS staining showed ROS1a expression in pollen, unfertilized ovules and meristematic cells. Interestingly, neither the maternal nor paternal knock-in null allele, ros1a-GUS1, was virtually detected in the progeny; such an intransmittable null mutation is difficult to isolate by conventional mutagenesis techniques that are usually used to identify and isolate mutants in the progeny population. Even in the presence of the wild-type paternal ROS1a allele, the maternal ros1a-GUS1 allele caused failure of early-stage endosperm development, resulting in incomplete embryo development, with embryogenesis producing irregular but viable embryos that failed to complete seed dormancy, implying non-equivalent maternal and paternal contribution of ROS1a in endosperm development. The paternal ros1a-GUS1 allele was not transmitted to progeny, presumably because of a male gametophytic defect(s) prior to fertilization. Thus, ROS1a is indispensable in both male and female gametophytes, and DNA demethylation must plays important roles in both gametophytes.

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