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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The persistence of maternal inheritance in Chlamydomonas despite hypomethylation of chloroplast DNA induced by inhibitors.

We have used inhibitors of methylation to evaluate the proposal that the extent of methylation of chloroplast DNA ( cpDNA ) of the mating type-plus (mt+) parent occurring during gametogenesis in wild-type Chlamydomonas renhardtii is directly correlated with the uniparental transmission of chloroplast genes by this parent [ Sager , R., Grabowy , C. & Sano , H. (1981) Cell 24, 41-47]. As detected by high-pressure liquid chromatography, the methylation of cpDNA was at its lowest level in the vegetative stage; the mt+ cells had a deoxycytidine methylation index (the percentage of deoxycytidine methylated) of 0.5, while the mating type-minus (mt-) index was lower by at least a factor of 3. This basal level of cpDNA methylation increased more than 20-fold after gametogenesis to give a methylation index of 12.1 and 4.3 for mt+ and mt- gametes, respectively. Another striking increase was detected at the 7-hr-zygote stage, resulting in the methylation of nearly half of the total deoxycytidine residues. The extent of zygotic cpDNA methylation was shown to be dependent on the preexisting methylation level of both parental gametic cpDNAs . L-Ethionine and 5-azacytidine effectively inhibited cpDNA methylation during gametogenesis and ensuing zygotic development as shown by both Hpa II/Msp I digestion patterns and HPLC. The transmission of chloroplast genes was analyzed concomitantly with the inhibitor studies. The two inhibitors produced different patterns of inhibition of methylation in mt- and mt+ cells at a given developmental stage. Our overall results demonstrate that the extent of mating type-specific and gamete-specific methylation during gametogenesis is not correlated with the frequency of maternal transmission of chloroplast genes.[1]


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