J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2019, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (6): 749-764.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12733

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Decrease in DNA methylation 1 (DDM1) is required for the formation of mCHH islands in maize

Jin Cheng Long, Ai Ai Xia, Jing Han Liu, Ju Li Jing, Ya Zhong Wang, Chuang Ye Qi and Yan He*   

  1. National Maize Improvement Center of China, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100094, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence:

    Email: Yan He (yh352@cau.edu.cn)
  • Received:2018-08-16 Accepted:2018-10-23 Online:2018-11-02 Published:2019-06-01

Abstract: DNA methylation plays a crucial role in suppressing mobilization of transposable elements and regulation of gene expression. A number of studies have indicated that DNA methylation pathways and patterns exhibit distinct properties in different species, including Arabidopsis, rice, and maize. Here, we characterized the function of DDM1 in regulating genome-wide DNA methylation in maize. Two homologs of ZmDDM1 are abundantly expressed in the embryo and their simultaneous disruption caused embryo lethality with abnormalities in cell proliferation from the early stage of kernel development. We establish that ZmDDM1 is critical for DNA methylation, at CHG sites, and to a lesser extent at CG sites, in heterochromatic regions, and unexpectedly, it is required for the formation of mCHH islands. In addition, ZmDDM1 is indispensable for the presence of 24-nt siRNA, suggesting its involvement in the RdDM pathway. Our results provide novel insight into the role of ZmDDM1 in regulating the formation of mCHH islands, via the RdDM pathway maize, suggesting that, in comparison to Arabidopsis, maize may have adopted distinct mechanisms for regulating mCHH.

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