JOURNAL ARTICLE

Distinct mechanisms determine transposon inheritance and methylation via small interfering RNA and histone modification

Zachary Lippman, Bruce May, Cristy Yordan, Tatjana Singer, Rob Martienssen
PLoS Biology 2003, 1 (3): E67
14691539
Heritable, but reversible, changes in transposable element activity were first observed in maize by Barbara McClintock in the 1950s. More recently, transposon silencing has been associated with DNA methylation, histone H3 lysine-9 methylation (H3mK9), and RNA interference (RNAi). Using a genetic approach, we have investigated the role of these modifications in the epigenetic regulation and inheritance of six Arabidopsis transposons. Silencing of most of the transposons is relieved in DNA methyltransferase (met1), chromatin remodeling ATPase (ddm1), and histone modification (sil1) mutants. In contrast, only a small subset of the transposons require the H3mK9 methyltransferase KRYPTONITE, the RNAi gene ARGONAUTE1, and the CXG methyltransferase CHROMOMETHYLASE3. In crosses to wild-type plants, epigenetic inheritance of active transposons varied from mutant to mutant, indicating these genes differ in their ability to silence transposons. According to their pattern of transposon regulation, the mutants can be divided into two groups, which suggests that there are distinct, but interacting, complexes or pathways involved in transposon silencing. Furthermore, different transposons tend to be susceptible to different forms of epigenetic regulation.

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