Maternal and paternal alleles exhibit differential histone methylation and acetylation at maize imprinted genes

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Abstract

Summary

Imprinting is an epigenetically controlled form of gene regulation in which the expression of a gene is based on its parent of origin. This epigenetic regulation is likely to involve allele-specific DNA or histone modifications. The relative abundance of eight different histone modifications was tested at various regions in several imprinted maize (Zea mays) genes using a chromatin immunoprecipitation protocol coupled with quantitative allele-specific single nucleotide polymorphism assays. Histone H3 lysine-27 di- and tri-methylation are paternally enriched at the imprinted loci Mez1, ZmFie1 and Nrp1. In contrast, acetylation of histones H3 and H4 and H3K4 dimethylation are enriched at the maternal alleles of these genes. Di- and tri-methylation of H3 lysine-9, which is generally associated with constitutively silenced chromatin, was not enriched at either allele of imprinted loci. These patterns of enrichment were specific to tissues that exhibit imprinting. In addition, the enrichment of these modifications was dependent upon the parental origin of an allele and not sequence differences between the alleles, as demonstrated by reciprocal crosses. This study presents a detailed view of the chromatin modifications that are associated with the maternal and paternal alleles at imprinted loci and provides evidence for common histone modifications at multiple imprinted loci.

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