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Suppression of the Arabidopsis cinnamoyl-CoA reductase 1-6 intronic T-DNA mutation by epigenetic modification

  • Wouters, Marlies
  • Bastiaanse, Héloïse
  • Rombauts, Stephane
  • de Vries, Lisanne
  • De Pooter, Tim
  • Strazisar, Mojca
  • Neutelings, Godfrey
  • Vanholme, Ruben
  • Boerjan, Wout
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2023
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) T-DNA insertion collections are popular resources for fundamental plant research. Cinnamoyl-CoA reductase 1 (CCR1) catalyzes an essential step in the biosynthesis of the cell wall polymer lignin. Accordingly, the intronic transfer (T)-DNA insertion mutant ccr1-6 has reduced lignin levels and shows a stunted growth phenotype. Here, we report restoration of the ccr1-6 mutant phenotype and CCR1 expression levels after a genetic cross with a UDP-glucosyltransferase 72e1 (ugt72e1), -e2, -e3 T-DNA mutant. We discovered that the phenotypic recovery was not dependent on the UGT72E family loss of function but due to an epigenetic phenomenon called trans T-DNA suppression. Via trans T-DNA suppression, the gene function of an intronic T-DNA mutant was restored after the introduction of an additional T-DNA sharing identical sequences, leading to heterochromatinization and splicing out of the T-DNA-containing intron. Consequently, the suppressed ccr1-6 allele was named epiccr1-6. Long-read sequencing revealed that epiccr1-6, not ccr1-6, carries dense cytosine methylation over the full length of the T-DNA. We showed that the SAIL T-DNA in the UGT72E3 locus could trigger the trans T-DNA suppression of the GABI-Kat T-DNA in the CCR1 locus. Furthermore, we scanned the literature for other potential cases of trans T-DNA suppression in Arabidopsis and found that 22% of the publications matching our query report on double or higher-order T-DNA mutants that meet the minimal requirements for trans T-DNA suppression. These combined observations indicate that intronic T-DNA mutants need to be used with caution since methylation of intronic T-DNA might derepress gene expression and can thereby confound results.

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