Xue W, Ruprecht C, Street N, Hematy K, Chang C, Frommer WB, Persson S, Niittylä T
Paramutation-Like Interaction of T-DNA Loci in Arabidopsis
PLoS ONE 2012 7(12): e51651

In paramutation, epigenetic information is transferred from one allele to another to create a gene expression state which is stably inherited over generations. Typically, paramutation describes a phenomenon where one allele of a gene down-regulates the expression of another allele. Paramutation has been described in several eukaryotes and is best understood in plants. Here we describe an unexpected paramutation-like trans SALK T-DNA interaction in Arabidopsis. Unlike most of the previously described paramutations, which led to gene silencing, the trans SALK T-DNA interaction caused an increase in the transcript levels of the endogenous gene (COBRA) where the T-DNA was inserted. This increased COBRA expression state was stably inherited for several generations and led to the partial suppression of the cobra phenotype. DNA methylation was implicated in this trans SALK T-DNA interaction since mutation of the DNA methyltransferase 1 in the suppressed cobra caused a reversal of the suppression. In addition, null mutants of the DNA demethylase ROS1 caused a similar COBRA transcript increase in the cobra SALK T-DNA mutant as the trans T-DNA interaction. Our results provide a new example of a paramutation-like trans T-DNA interaction in Arabidopsis, and establish a convenient hypocotyl elongation assay to study this phenomenon. The results also alert to the possibility of unexpected endogenous transcript increase when two T-DNAs are combined in the same genetic background.

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