GDCB Seminar: 'DNA methylation in gene regulation'
Speaker: Jonathan Gent, University of Georgia senior research associate in the Department of Plant Biology
Title: "DNA methylation in gene regulation"
Abstract: DNA methylation does not normally function in developmental gene regulation in plants. We discovered a set of approximately 100 genes in maize, however, that are repressed by DNA methylation in most tissues but activated by DNA demethylation in pollen and in endosperm. The majority of these are in 11 clusters that exhibit strong silencing across vegetative development but are among the most highly expressed genes in pollen and endosperm. In pollen, the proteins they encode are likely involved with loosening cell walls to support the exceptionally rapid cell growth characteristic of pollen tubes. In DNA glycosylase mutants that fail to demethylate these genes, their expression drops more than 100-fold, and mutant pollen and endosperm are completely inviable. We are currently seeking to understand how this unusual form of gene regulation works, including how it is guided to specific genes in pollen and endosperm.
Host: Sarah Anderson, GDCB assistant professor