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Dynamic Cytosine DNA Methylation Patterns Associated with mRNA and siRNA Expression Profiles in Alternate Bearing Apple Trees

Fan, Sheng, Gao, Xiuhua, Gao, Cai, Yang, Yang, Zhu, Xinzheng, Feng, Wei, Li, Ruimin, Mobeen Tahir, Muhammad, Zhang, Dong, Han, Mingyu, An, Na
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2019 v.67 no.18 pp. 5250-5264
Arabidopsis, DNA methylation, Malus domestica, alternate bearing, apples, cytosine, flowering, fruit trees, gene expression, genes, genomics, hormones, messenger RNA, metabolism, plant growth, small interfering RNA, starch, sucrose, sulfates
Cytosine DNA methylation plays an important role in plants: it can mediate gene expression to affect plant growth and development. However, little is known about the potential involvement of cytosine DNA methylation in apple trees as well as in response to alternate bearing. Here, we performed whole-genome bisulfate sequencing to investigate genomic CG, CHG, and CHH methylation patterns, together with their global mRNA accumulation and small RNA expression in “Fuji” apple trees. Results showed that “Fuji” apple trees have a higher CHH methylation than Arabidopsis. Moreover, genomic methylation analysis revealed that CG and CHG methylation were robustly maintained at the early stage of flower induction. Additionally, differentially methylated regions (DMRs), including hypermethylated and hypomethylated DMRs, were also characterized in alternate bearing (AB) apple trees. Intriguingly, the DMRs were enriched in hormones, redox state, and starch and sucrose metabolism, which affected flowering. Further global gene expression evaluation based on methylome analysis revealed a negative correlation between gene body methylation and gene expression. Subsequent small RNA analyses showed that 24-nucleotide small interfering RNAs were activated and maintained in non-CG methylated apple trees. Our whole-genome DNA methylation analysis and RNA and small RNA expression profile construction provide valuable information for future studies.