Tracing the origin and evolution history of methylation-related genes in plants.


National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070, Hubei, China. [Email]


BACKGROUND : DNA methylation is a crucial epigenetic modification, which is involved in many biological processes, including gene expression regulation, embryonic development, cell differentiation and genomic imprinting etc. And it also involves many key regulatory genes in eukaryotes. By tracing the evolutionary history of methylation-related genes, we can understand the origin and expansion time of these genes, which helps to understand the evolutionary history of plants, and we can also understand the changes of DNA methylation patterns in different species. However, most studies on the evolution of methylation-related genes failed to be carried out for the whole DNA methylation pathway.
RESULTS : In this study, we conducted a comprehensive identification of 33 methylation-related genes in 77 species, and investigated gene origin and evolution throughout the plant kingdom. We found that the origin of genes responsible for methylation maintenance and demethylation evolved early, while most de novo methylation-related genes appeared late. The methylation-related genes were expanded by whole genome duplication and tandem replication, but were also accompanied by a large number of gene absence events in different species. The gene length and intron length varied a lot in different species, but exon structure and functional domains were relatively conserved. The phylogenetic relationships of methylation-related genes were traced to reveal the evolution history of DNA methylation in different species. The expression patterns of methylation-related genes have changed during the evolution of species, and the expression patterns of these genes in different species can be clustered into four categories.
CONCLUSIONS : The study describes a global characterization of DNA methylation-related genes in the plant kingdom. The similarities and differences in origin time, gene structure and phylogenetic relationship of these genes lead us to understand the evolutionary conservation and dynamics of DNA methylation in plants.


DNA methylation,Duplication,Gene origin,Gene structure,Phylogenetic analysis,

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