Dynamics of DNA methylation and genomic imprinting in arabidopsis
Author(s)Picard, Colette Lafontaine.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Computational and Systems Biology Program.
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DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that is highly conserved and important in diverse cellular processes, ranging from transposon silencing to genomic imprinting. In plants, DNA methylation is both mitotically and meiotically heritable, and changes in DNA methylation can be generationally stable and have long-lasting consequences. This thesis aims to improve understanding of DNA methylation dynamics in plants, particularly across generations and during reproduction. In the first project, I present an analysis of the generational dynamics of gene body methylation using recombinant inbred lines derived from differentially methylated parents. I show that while gene body methylation is highly generationally stable, changes in methylation state occur nonrandomly and are enriched in regions of intermediate methylation.Important DNA methylation changes also occur during seed development in flowering plants, and these changes underlie genomic imprinting, the phenomenon of parent-of-origin specific gene expression. In plants, imprinting occurs in the endosperm, a seed tissue that functions analogously to the mammalian placenta. Imprinted expression is linked to DNA methylation patterns that serve to differentiate the maternally- and paternally-inherited alleles, but the mechanisms used to achieve imprinted expression are often unknown. I next explore imprinted expression and DNA methylation in Arabidopsis lyrata, a close relative of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. I find that the majority of imprinted genes in A. lyrata endosperm are also imprinted in A. thaliana, suggesting that imprinted expression is generally conserved. Surprisingly, a subset of A. lyrata imprinted genes are associated with a novel DNA methylation pattern and may be regulated by a different mechanism than their A.thaliana counterparts. I then explore the genetics of paternal suppression of the seed abortion phenotype caused by mutation of a maternally expressed imprinted gene. Finally, I present the first large single-nuclei RNA-seq dataset generated in plants, reporting data from 1,093 individual nuclei obtained from developing seeds. I find evidence of previously uncharacterized cell states in endosperm, and examine imprinted expression at the single-cell level. Together, these projects contribute to our understanding of DNA methylation and imprinting dynamics during plant development, and highlight the strong generational stability of certain DNA methylation patterns.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computational and Systems Biology Program, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 210-226).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Computational and Systems Biology Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Computational and Systems Biology Program.