Regulation of Parent-of-Origin Allelic Expression in the Endosperm.


Section for Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway [Email]


Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon established in the gametes prior to fertilization that causes differential expression of parental alleles, mainly in the endosperm of flowering plants. The overlap between previously identified panels of imprinted genes is limited. To investigate imprinting, we used high-resolution sequencing data acquired with sequence-capture technology. We present a bioinformatics pipeline to assay parent-of-origin allele-specific expression and report more than 300 loci with parental expression bias in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). In most cases, the level of expression from maternal and paternal alleles was not binary, instead supporting a differential dosage hypothesis for the evolution of imprinting in plants. To address imprinting regulation, we systematically employed mutations in regulative epigenetic pathways suggested to be major players in the process. We established the mechanistic mode of imprinting for more than 50 loci regulated by DNA methylation and Polycomb-dependent histone methylation. However, the imprinting patterns of most genes were not affected by these mechanisms. To this end, we also demonstrated that the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway alone does not substantially influence imprinting patterns, suggesting that more complex epigenetic pathways regulate most of the identified imprinted genes.