Cytosine methylation provides an attractive epigenetic modification for the global maintenance of phases in plant development; however, there are few known examples of specific genes whose methylation status changes in a developmentally regulated manner. Pl-Blotched, an allele of purple plant1 (pl1), which encodes a myb-like transcription factor that regulates anthocyanin production in maize, is one such gene: certain cytosines at the 3′ end of this allele are hypomethylated in seedlings, become hypermethylated in organs formed in the adult phase, and are hypomethylated again in the next generation. We tested whether this developmental pattern of low juvenile cytosine methylation followed by higher methylation in adult tissues could also be observed in plants “rejuvenated” via shoot apex culture. We found that cytosine methylation patterns at Pl-Blotched were indeed recapitulated in culture-rejuvenated plants, showing hypomethylation in leaves with juvenile patterns of differentiation (even though they were made by an old meristem) followed by hypermethylation in later-formed leaves. Our results show that methylation status at that locus is determined by the developmental phase of the shoot, rather than by the age of the meristem forming it. These results support the hypothesis that DNA methylation is employed by the plant to maintain an epigenetic state.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 2, 2005
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