Genetic Perturbation of the Maize Methylome
Li Q, Eichten SR, Hermanson PJ, Zaunbrecher V, Song J, Wendt J, Rosenbaum H, Madzima TF, Sloan AE, Huang J, Burgess D, Richman TA, Kaeppler SM, McGinnis KM, Meeley RB, Danilevskaya ON, Vaughn MW, Jeddeloh JA, Springer NM. 2014. The Plant Cell


DNA methylation can play important roles in the regulation of transposable elements and genes. A collection of mutant alleles for 11 maize (Zea mays) genes predicted to play roles in controlling DNA methylation were isolated through forward- or reverse-genetic approaches. Low-coverage whole-genome bisulfite sequencing and high-coverage sequence-capture bisulfite sequencing were applied to mutant lines to determine context- and locus-specific effects of these mutations on DNA methylation profiles. Plants containing mutant alleles for components of the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway exhibit loss of CHH methylation at many loci as well as CG and CHG methylation at a small number of loci. Plants containing loss-of-function alleles for chromomethylase (CMT) genes exhibit strong genome-wide reductions in CHG methylation and some locus-specific loss of CHH methylation. In an attempt to identify stocks with stronger reductions in DNA methylation levels than provided by single gene mutations, we performed crosses to create double mutants for the maize CMT3 orthologs, Zmet2 and Zmet5, and for the maize DDM1 orthologs, Chr101 and Chr106. While loss-of-function alleles are viable as single gene mutants, the double mutants were not recovered, suggesting that severe perturbations of the maize methylome may have stronger deleterious phenotypic effects than in Arabidopsis thaliana.