Cytosine DNA methylation is a stable epigenetic mark for maintenance of gene silencing across cellular divisions, but it is a reversible modification. Genetic and biochemical studies have revealed that the Arabidopsis DNA glycosylase domain-containing proteins ROS1 (REPRESSOR OF SILENCING 1) and DME (DEMETER) initiate erasure of 5-methylcytosine through a base excision repair process. The Arabidopsis genome encodes two paralogs of ROS1 and DME, referred to as DEMETER-LIKE proteins DML2 and DML3. We have found that DML2 and DML3 are 5-methylcytosine DNA glycosylases that are expressed in a wide range of plant organs. We analyzed the distribution of methylation marks at two methylated loci in wild-type and dml mutant plants. Mutations in DML2 and/or DML3 lead to hypermethylation of cytosine residues that are unmethylated or weakly methylated in wild-type plants. In contrast, sites that are heavily methylated in wild-type plants are hypomethylated in mutants. These results suggest that DML2 and DML3 are required not only for removing DNA methylation marks from improperly-methylated cytosines, but also for maintenance of high methylation levels in properly targeted sites.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 21, 2008
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