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Plant DNA Methyltransferase Genes: Multiplicity, Expression, Methylation Patterns

V. V. Ashapkin*, L. I. Kutueva, and B. F. Vanyushin

Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia; fax: +7 (495) 939-3181; E-mail: basilashapkin@gmail.com; ashapkin@genebee.msu.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received August 16, 2015; Revision received September 11, 2015
Expression and methylation patterns of genes encoding DNA methyltransferases and their functionally related proteins were studied in organs of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Genes coding for the major maintenance-type DNA methyltransferases, MET1 and CMT3, and the major de novo-type DNA methyltransferase, DRM2, are actively expressed in all organs. Similar constitutively active expression was observed for genes encoding their functionally related proteins, a histone H3K9 methyltransferase KYP and a catalytically non-active protein DRM3. Expression of the MET1 and CMT3 genes is significantly lower in developing endosperm compared with embryo. Vice versa, expression of the MET2a, MET2b, MET3, and CMT2 genes in endosperm is much more active compared with embryo. A special maintenance DNA methylation system seems to operate in endosperm. The DNMT2 and N6AMT genes encoding putative methyltransferases are constitutively expressed at low levels. CMT1 and DRM1 genes are expressed rather weakly in all investigated organs. Most of the studied genes have methylation patterns conforming to the “body-methylated gene” prototype. A peculiar feature of the MET family genes is methylation at all three possible site types (CG, CHG, and CHH). The most weakly expressed among genes of their respective families, CMT1 and DRM1, are practically unmethylated. The MET3 and N6AMT genes have unusual methylation patterns, promoter region, and most of the gene body devoid of any methylation, and the 3′-end proximal part of the gene body is highly methylated.
KEY WORDS: DNA methylation, DNA methyltransferase, gene expression, quantitative PCR, bisulfite sequencing, Arabidopsis thaliana

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916020085