A cytosine DNA methyltransferase containing a chromodomain, Zea methyltransferase2 ( Zmet2 ), was cloned from maize. The sequence of ZMET2 is similar to that of the Arabidopsis chromomethylases CMT1 and CMT3 , with C-terminal motifs characteristic of eukaryotic and prokaryotic DNA methyltransferases. We used a reverse genetics approach to determine the function of the Zmet2 gene. Plants homozygous for a Mutator transposable element insertion into motif IX had a 13% reduction in methylated cytosines. DNA gel blot analysis of these plants with methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes and bisulfite sequencing of a 180-bp knob sequence showed reduced methylation only at CpNpG sites. No reductions in methylation were observed at CpG or asymmetric sites in heterozygous or homozygous mutant plants. Our research shows that chromomethylase Zmet2 is required for in vivo methylation of CpNpG sequences.
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