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Identification and characterization of paternal-preferentially expressed gene NF-YC8 in maize endosperm


Gene imprinting describes an epigenetic phenomenon, whereby genetically identical alleles are differentially expressed dependent on parent-of-origin. Some imprinted genes belonged to NUCLEAR FACTOR Y (NF-Y) transcription factors, which were involved in many important metabolic processes in plant. The characterizations of imprinted genes are of great importance for their function exploration. In this paper, 15 non-redundant NF-YC genes were identified in the maize genome and the paternally expressed gene NF-YC8 was further analyzed. NF-YC8 primarily expressed in maize immature ear and tassel and phylogenetic analysis showed that NF-YC8 was highly homologous with Arabidopsis thaliana NF-YC2 genes which function in regulation of the flowering processes, ER stress response. Furthermore, NF-YC8 was a differential, gene-specific imprinted gene at 14 DAP and persistently imprinted throughout later endosperm development in the B73/Mo17 genetic background. Bisulfite sequencing for NF-YC8 in maize endosperm showed that the paternal alleles were higher methylated (CG, CHG and CHH contexts) than maternal alleles in the 5′ upstream region, and the coding region was highly methylated in CG context. Additionally, TE (CG, CHG and CHH contexts) and repetitive region (CG and CHG contexts) were all highly methylated. These results are the first description of evolution and molecular characterization of maize NF-YC8 and will provide new references for maize NF-YC genetic analysis.

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The authors would like to thank the Major Research Projects of Chongqing (CSTC2012ggc80003) for providing financial support.

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Correspondence to Yilin Cai.

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Communicated by J. Lai.

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Mei, X., Liu, C., Yu, T. et al. Identification and characterization of paternal-preferentially expressed gene NF-YC8 in maize endosperm. Mol Genet Genomics 290, 1819–1831 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00438-015-1043-5

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  • NF-Y
  • Gene imprinting
  • Paternally expressed gene
  • Maize endosperm