Cadmium stress alters cytosine methylation status and expression of a select set of genes in Nicotiana benthamiana.


School of Life Science and Technology, Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology, Baotou, 014010, China. Electronic address: [Email]


In this paper, we evaluated the genotoxicity of cadmium (Cd) in plants by performing a methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP) on the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. Among 255 loci examined, 14 genes were found to show altered cytosine methylation patterns in response to Cd stress. Four of those genes (NbMORC3, NbHGSNAT, NbMUT, and NbBG) were selected for further analysis due to their predicted roles in plant development. Cd-induced changes of cytosine methylation status in MSAP fragments of selected genes were confirmed using bisulfite sequencing polymerase chain reaction (BSP). In addition, the expression levels of these genes were found to correlate with cadmium dosage, and a knock-down of these four genes via virus-induced genes silencing (VIGS) led to abnormal development and elevated sensitivity to cadmium stress. Silencing of these four genes resulted in altered cadmium accumulation in different parts of the experimental plants. Our data indicate that cadmium exposure causes dramatic changes in the cytosine methylation status of the plant genome, thus affecting the expression of many genes that are vital for plant growth and are involved in cadmium stress response.


Cadmium,Cytosine methylation,Genotoxicity,MSAP,VIGS,