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New Phytol. 2018 Nov;220(3):908-921. doi: 10.1111/nph.15082. Epub 2018 Mar 24.

Transgenerational phenotype aggravation in CAF-1 mutants reveals parent-of-origin specific epigenetic inheritance.

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Department of Plant Biology, Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center for Plant Biology, SE-75007, Uppsala, Sweden.
Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Centre Algatech, Opatovický mlýn, CZ-37981, Třeboň, Czech Republic.
Department of Biology and Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center, ETH Zurich, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland.
Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics, National Centre for Biomolecular Research, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, CZ-61137, Brno, Czech Republic.


Chromatin is assembled by histone chaperones such as chromatin assembly factor CAF-1. We had noticed that vigor of Arabidopsis thaliana CAF-1 mutants decreased over several generations. Because changes in mutant phenotype severity over generations are unusual, we asked how repeated selfing of Arabidopsis CAF-1 mutants affects phenotype severity. CAF-1 mutant plants of various generations were grown, and developmental phenotypes, transcriptomes and DNA cytosine-methylation profiles were compared quantitatively. Shoot- and root-related growth phenotypes were progressively more affected in successive generations of CAF-1 mutants. Early and late generations of the fasciata (fas)2-4 CAF-1 mutant displayed only limited changes in gene expression, of which increasing upregulation of plant defense-related genes reflects the transgenerational phenotype aggravation. Likewise, global DNA methylation in the sequence context CHG but not CG or CHH (where H = A, T or C) changed over generations in fas2-4. Crossing early and late generation fas2-4 plants established that the maternal contribution to the phenotype severity exceeds the paternal contribution. Together, epigenetic rather than genetic mechanisms underlie the progressive developmental phenotype aggravation in the Arabidopsis CAF-1 mutants and preferred maternal transmission reveals a more efficient reprogramming of epigenetic information in the male than the female germline.


Arabidopsis thaliana ; CAF-1; Chromatin; DNA methylation; Development; epigenetics; histone

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