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Spatial and temporal regulation of parent-of-origin allelic expression in the endosperm

Publication at Faculty of Science |


Genomic imprinting promotes differential expression of parental alleles in the endosperm of flowering plants and is regulated by epigenetic modification such as DNA methylation and histone tail modifications in chromatin. After fertilization, the endosperm develops through a syncytial stage before it cellularizes and becomes a nutrient source for the growing embryo.

Regional compartmentalization has been shown both in early and late endosperm development, and different transcriptional domains suggest divergent spatial and temporal regional functions. The analysis of the role of parent-of-origin allelic expression in the endosperm as a whole and the investigation of domain-specific functions have been hampered by the inaccessibility of the tissue for high-throughput transcriptome analyses and contamination from surrounding tissue.

Here, we used fluorescence-activated nuclear sorting (FANS) of nuclear targeted GFP fluorescent genetic markers to capture parental-specific allelic expression from different developmental stages and specific endosperm domains. This approach allowed us to successfully identify differential genomic imprinting with temporal and spatial resolution.

We used a systematic approach to report temporal regulation of imprinted genes in the endosperm, as well as region-specific imprinting in endosperm domains. Analysis of our data identified loci that are spatially differentially imprinted in one domain of the endosperm, while biparentally expressed in other domains.

These findings suggest that the regulation of genomic imprinting is dynamic and challenge the canonical mechanisms for genomic imprinting.