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Genetics. 1999 Feb;151(2):831-8.

Meiotically and mitotically stable inheritance of DNA hypomethylation induced by ddm1 mutation of Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Agrobiological Resources, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0856, Japan.


In contrast to mammalian epigenetic phenomena, where resetting of gene expression generally occurs in each generation, epigenetic states of plant genes are often stably transmitted through generations. The Arabidopsis mutation ddm1 causes a 70% reduction in genomic 5-methylcytosine level. We have previously shown that the ddm1 mutation results in an accumulation of a variety of developmental abnormalities by slowly inducing heritable changes in other loci. Each of the examined ddm1-induced developmental abnormalities is stably transmitted even when segregated from the potentiating ddm1 mutation. Here, the inheritance of DNA hypomethylation induced by ddm1 was examined in outcross progeny by HPLC and Southern analyses. The results indicate that (i) DDM1 gene function is not necessary during the gametophyte stage, (ii) ddm1 mutation is completely recessive, and (iii) remethylation of sequences hypomethylated by the ddm1 mutation is extremely slow or nonexistent even in wild-type DDM1 backgrounds. The stable transmission of DNA methylation status may be related to the meiotic heritability of the ddm1-induced developmental abnormalities.

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