The Effects of Phytohormones and 5-Azacytidine on Apoptosis in Etiolated Wheat Seedlings

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The development of etiolated wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) seedlings is necessarily accompanied by apoptosis in their coleoptiles and first leaves. Internucleosome DNA fragmentation, which is characteristic of apoptosis, was detected in the coleoptile as soon as six days after germination. After eight days of germination, DNA fragmentation was clearly expressed in the coleoptile and was noticeable in the apical part of the first-leaf blade. Growing of intact seedlings or incubation of their shoots in the presence of such phytohormones as benzyladenine, gibberellin A3, fusicoccin C, and 2,4-D at the concentration of 10−5 M did not essentially affect DNA fragmentation in the coleoptile. As distinct from antioxidants, none of the phytohormones used prevented apoptosis in wheat seedlings. In contrast, ABA (10−5 M) and an ethylene producer, ethrel (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid, 10−2–10−3 M), stimulated sharply DNA fragmentation in the coleoptile. An inhibitor of DNA methylation, 5-azacytidine, was very efficient in the stimulation of DNA fragmentation in the coleoptiles of eight-day-old seedlings at its concentration of 100 μg/ml. Thus, some phytohormones can regulate apoptosis, and DNA methylation is involved in this process. Our results indicate that apoptosis activation by some phytohormones may be mediated by their regulation of DNA methylation/demethylation, which is responsible for the induction of genes encoding apoptogenic proteins and/or the repression of antiapoptotic genes.

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