ABSTRACT: Imprinted genes are expressed primarily or exclusively from either the maternal or paternal allele, a phenomenon that occurs in flowering plants and mammals. Flowering plant imprinted gene expression has been described primarily in endosperm, a terminal nutritive tissue consumed by the embryo during seed development or after germination. Imprinted expression in Arabidopsis thaliana endosperm is orchestrated by differences in cytosine DNA methylation between the paternal and maternal genomes as well as by Polycomb group proteins. Currently, only 11 imprinted A. thaliana genes are known. Here, we use extensive sequencing of cDNA libraries to identify 9 paternally expressed and 34 maternally expressed imprinted genes in A. thaliana endosperm that are regulated by the DNA-demethylating glycosylase DEMETER, the DNA methyltransferase MET1, and/or the core Polycomb group protein FIE. These genes encode transcription factors, proteins involved in hormone signaling, components of the ubiquitin protein degradation pathway, regulators of histone and DNA methylation, and small RNA pathway proteins. We also identify maternally expressed genes that may be regulated by unknown mechanisms or deposited from maternal tissues. We did not detect any imprinted genes in the embryo. Our results show that imprinted gene expression is an extensive mechanistically complex phenomenon that likely affects multiple aspects of seed development.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(5):1755-62. · 9.68 Impact Factor