Genome-wide profiling of stored mRNA in Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination: epigenetic and genetic regulation of transcription in seed


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To reveal the transcriptomes of Arabidopsis seed, comprehensive expression analysis was performed using ATH1 GeneChips (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA, USA). In the dry seed, more than 12 000 stored mRNA species were detected, including all ontological categories. Statistical analysis revealed that promoters of highly expressed genes in wild-type dry seeds overrepresented abscisic acid-responsive elements (ABREs) containing the core motif ACGT. Although the coupling element and seed-specific enhancer RY motif alone were not prominently overrepresented in genes with high expression, the presence of these elements in combination with ABRE was associated with particularly high gene expression. The transcriptome of the imbibed seeds differed from that of the dry seed even at 6 h after seed imbibition. After imbibition many upregulated and downregulated genes were co-regulated in clusters of three to five genes. Genes for which expression was affected by the abi5 mutation tended to be located in clusters, suggesting that transactivation by ABI5 is not restricted to a single gene, but affects other proximal genes. Furthermore, cytosine methylation was observed not only in large silent retrotransposon clusters in centromeric regions, but also in non-centromeric silent gene clusters in the seed. These results suggest that such regions might be transcriptionally silenced by methylation or heterochromatin structures. Our analyses reveal that transcriptomes of Arabidopsis seed are characterized by multiple regulatory mechanisms: epigenetic chromatin structures, chromosomal locations (e.g. co-regulated gene clusters) and cis-acting elements.