One-Way Control of FWA Imprinting in Arabidopsis Endosperm by DNA Methylation

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Science  23 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5657, pp. 521-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.1089835

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The Arabidopsis FWA gene was initially identified from late-flowering epigenetic mutants that show ectopic FWA expression associated with heritable hypomethylation of repeats around transcription starting sites. Here, we show that wild-type FWA displays imprinted (maternal origin–specific) expression in endosperm. The FWA imprint depends on the maintenance DNA methyltransferase MET1, as is the case in mammals. Unlike mammals, however, the FWA imprint is not established by allele-specific de novo methylation. It is established by maternal gametophyte–specific gene activation, which depends on a DNA glycosylase gene, DEMETER. Because endosperm does not contribute to the next generation, the activated FWA gene need not be silenced again. Double fertilization enables plants to use such “one-way” control of imprinting and DNA methylation in endosperm.

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