The Ty1/copia-like retrotransposon ONSEN is conserved among Brassica species, as well as in beans, including adzuki bean (Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & Ohashi), which is one of the economically important crops in Japan. ONSEN has acquired a heat-responsive element that is recognized by plant heat stress defense factors, resulting in its transcription and the production of full-length extrachromosomal DNA under conditions with elevated temperatures. DNA methylation plays an important role in regulating the activation of this transposon in plants. Therefore, chemical inhibition of DNA methyltransferases has been utilized to study the effect of DNA methylation on transposon activation. To understand the effect of DNA methylation on ONSEN activation, Arabidopsis thaliana and adzuki bean seedlings were treated with zebularine, which is known to be an effective chemical demethylation agent. The results showed that ONSEN transcription levels were upregulated in zebularine-treated plants. Extrachromosomal DNA of ONSEN also accumulated in the treated plants.
T-DNA integration into plant chromosomal DNA via Agrobacterium tumefaciens can be achieved by exploiting the double-strand break repair system of the host’s DNA. However, the detailed mechanism of T-DNA integration remains unclear. Here, a sequence analysis of the junction sequences of T-DNA and chromosomal DNA was performed to assess the mechanism of T-DNA integration. T-DNA was introduced into Arabidopsis wild-type and NHEJ-deficient ku80 mutant plants using the floral dip method; the junctions of the left border (LB) of T-DNA were subsequently analyzed by adapter PCR. The most frequent junction of the LB of T-DNA with chromosomal DNA was of the filler DNA type in both lines. The lengths of direct or inverted repeat sequences within or around the filler DNA sequence were greater in the ku80 mutant. In addition, the frequency of T-DNA integration near a transcription start site was significantly higher in the ku80 mutant. Our observations suggest that the presence of the Ku80 protein affects the location of the integration of T-DNA and the pattern of formation of repeat sequences within or around the filler DNA during LB integration into chromosomal DNA.
Most transposable elements (TEs) are tightly regulated by epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is a major control mechanism of TE silencing in plants. We analyzed the transposition activity of a heat-responsive retrotransposon, ONSEN, in Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenerational transposition was observed in RdDM pathway-deficient mutants upon heat stress. The transposition frequency was higher in the mutants of the upstream processes, but lower in the mutants of the downstream steps, of RdDM. The transposition frequency was not associated with the number of extrachromosomal ONSEN copies. Constitutive heterochromatin of interphase nuclei was dispersed upon heat stress. The degree of decondensation was higher in the RdDM mutants than in wild-type plants subjected to heat stress. We discuss the possible role of RdDM in the regulation of ONSEN transposition upon heat stress.
To elucidate the diversity and evolution of the Si7PPO gene that controls phenol color reaction (Phr) in foxtail millet, Setaria italica, we analyzed sequence polymorphisms of the Si7PPO gene in 39 accessions consisting of foxtail millet landraces (32 accessions) and their wild ancestor ssp. viridis (seven accessions) collected from various regions in Europe and Asia. The accessions included wild type (positive Phr) and three different types of loss-of-function phenotype (negative Phr), “stop codon type”, “TE1-insertion type” and “6-bp duplication type”, found in our previous study. We constructed a phylogenetic tree of the gene and found that accessions with positive Phr showed higher genetic diversity at the nucleotide sequence level. We also found that the three different loss-of-function types formed different clusters, suggesting that landraces with negative Phr have multiple origins from three different lineages including both landrace and ssp. viridis accessions with positive Phr.
The soricid water shrew Chimarrogale platycephalus is a mammalian species endemic to the Japanese Islands. The animals inhabit the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, and are considered to be extinct in Shikoku. Information on this water shrew from Honshu and Kyushu is scarce, and C. platycephalus is registered on many local governments’ red lists as an endangered species. There are very few studies on their ethology, ecology or phylogenetics, due to difficulties related to the shrews being both nocturnal and aquatic: to study C. platycephalus, field research must be conducted in mountain streams at night. To overcome these challenges, we previously established a genetic analysis method using the feces of C. platycephalus, as a result of which the amount of phylogenetic and phylogeographic data has increased and our understanding of the species has improved. In this study, microsatellite markers were developed, and analyses using markers for 21 loci were performed. Moreover, to confirm the ability of these 21 microsatellite markers to differentiate individuals, all markers were tested using fecal and tissue specimens from 12 individuals reared separately in an aquarium. Using as few as 12 of these loci, individual differentiation with 100% accuracy should be achievable. The development of microsatellite markers in this study and the establishment of individual identification methods should greatly contribute to future ecological, ethological, population genetics and biogeographical research on C. platycephalus.