CHH DNA methylation increases at 24-PHAS loci depend on 24-nt phased small interfering RNAs in maize meiotic anthers

Mei Zhang, Xuxu Ma, Chunyu Wang, Qing Li, Blake C. Meyers, Nathan M. Springer, Virginia Walbot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Plant phased small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) contribute to robust male fertility; however, specific functions remain undefined. In maize (Zea mays), male sterile23 (ms23), necessary for both 24-nt phasiRNA precursor (24-PHAS) loci and Dicer-like5 (Dcl5) expression, and dcl5-1 mutants unable to slice PHAS transcripts lack nearly all 24-nt phasiRNAs. Based on sequence capture bisulfite-sequencing, we find that CHH DNA methylation of most 24-PHAS loci is increased in meiotic anthers of control plants but not in the ms23 and dcl5 mutants. Because dcl5-1 anthers express PHAS precursors, we conclude that the 24-nt phasiRNAs, rather than just activation of PHAS transcription, are required for targeting increased CHH methylation at these loci. Although PHAS precursors are processed into multiple 24-nt phasiRNA products, there is substantial differential product accumulation. Abundant 24-nt phasiRNA positions corresponded to high CHH methylation within individual loci, reinforcing the conclusion that 24-nt phasiRNAs contribute to increased CHH methylation in cis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2984-2997
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume229
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Dcl5
  • DNA methylation
  • Ms23
  • phasiRNA
  • Zea mays (maize)

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