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Plant Cell Physiol. 2018 Jul 1;59(7):1385-1397. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcy031.

Arabidopsis Zinc-Finger-Like Protein ASYMMETRIC LEAVES2 (AS2) and Two Nucleolar Proteins Maintain Gene Body DNA Methylation in the Leaf Polarity Gene ETTIN (ARF3).

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Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chubu University, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan.
Division of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.
Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kakuma-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan.
Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science, Department of Biology, Hirosaki University, 3 Bunkyo-cho, Hirosaki, Japan.
Center for Gene Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


Arabidopsis ASYMMETRIC LEAVES2 (AS2) plays a critical role in leaf adaxial-abaxial partitioning by repressing expression of the abaxial-determining gene ETTIN/AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR3 (ETT/ARF3). We previously reported that six CpG dinucleotides in its exon 6 are thoroughly methylated by METHYLTRASFERASE1, that CpG methylation levels are inversely correlated with ETT/ARF3 transcript levels and that methylation levels at three out of the six CpG dinucleotides are decreased in as2-1. All these imply that AS2 is involved in epigenetic repression of ETT/ARF3 by gene body DNA methylation. The mechanism of the epigenetic repression by AS2, however, is unknown. Here, we tested mutations of NUCLEOLIN1 (NUC1) and RNA HELICASE10 (RH10) encoding nucleolus-localized proteins for the methylation in exon 6 as these mutations enhance the level of ETT/ARF3 transcripts in as2-1. Methylation levels at three specific CpGs were decreased in rh10-1, and two of those three overlapped with those in as2-1. Methylation levels at two specific CpGs were decreased in nuc1-1, and one of those three overlapped with that in as2-1. No site was affected by both rh10-1 and nuc1-1. One specific CpG was unaffected by these mutations. These results imply that the way in which RH10, NUC1 and AS2 are involved in maintaining methylation at five CpGs in exon 6 might be through at least several independent pathways, which might interact with each other. Furthermore, we found that AS2 binds specifically the sequence containing CpGs in exon 1 of ETT/ARF3, and that the binding requires the zinc-finger-like motif in AS2 that is structurally similar to the zinc finger-CxxC domain in vertebrate DNA methyltransferase1.

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