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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 5;110(6):2389-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211757110. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Dynamics and biological relevance of DNA demethylation in Arabidopsis antibacterial defense.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8197, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 1024, 75005 Paris, France.


DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that silences transposable elements (TEs) and repeats. Whereas the establishment and maintenance of DNA methylation are relatively well understood, little is known about their dynamics and biological relevance in plant and animal innate immunity. Here, we show that some TEs are demethylated and transcriptionally reactivated during antibacterial defense in Arabidopsis. This effect is correlated with the down-regulation of key transcriptional gene silencing factors and is partly dependent on an active demethylation process. DNA demethylation restricts multiplication and vascular propagation of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae in leaves and, accordingly, some immune-response genes, containing repeats in their promoter regions, are negatively regulated by DNA methylation. This study provides evidence that DNA demethylation is part of a plant-induced immune response, potentially acting to prime transcriptional activation of some defense genes linked to TEs/repeats.

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