Variation in DNA methylation patterns is more common among maize inbreds than among tissues

Steven R. Eichten, Matthew W. Vaughn, Peter J. Hermanson, Nathan M. Springer

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Chromatin modifications, such as DNA methylation, can provide heritable, epigenetic regulation of gene expression in the absence of genetic changes. A role for DNA methylation in meiotically stable marking of repetitive elements and other sequences has been demonstrated in plants. Methylation of DNA is also proposed to play a role in development through providing a mitotic memory of gene expression states established during cellular differentiation. We sought to clarify the relative levels of DNA methylation variation among different genotypes and tissues in maize (Zea mays L.). We have assessed genomewide DNA methylation patterns in leaf, immature tassel, embryo, and endosperm tissues of two inbred maize lines: B73 and Mo17. There are hundreds of regions of differential methylation present between the two genotypes. In general, the same regions exhibit differential methylation between B73 and Mo17 in each of the tissues that were surveyed. In contrast, there are few examples of tissue-specific DNA methylation variation. Only a subset of regions with tissue-specific variation in DNA methylation show similar patterns in both genotypes of maize and even fewer are associated with altered gene expression levels among the tissues. Our data indicates a limited impact of DNA methylation on developmental gene regulation within maize.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant Genome
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


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