Local DNA features affect RNA-directed transcriptional gene silencing and DNA methylation

Ute Fischer, Markus Kuhlmann, Ales Pecinka, Renate Schmidt, Michael F. Mette*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Transcription of a nopaline synthase promoter (pNOS) inverted repeat provides an RNA signal that can trigger transcriptional gene silencing and methylation of pNOS promoters in trans. The degree of silencing is influenced by the local DNA features close to the target promoter integration sites. Among 26 transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana lines harbouring single copies of a T-DNA including a pNOS-NPTII reporter gene at different chromosomal loci, NPTII RNA levels showed limited variation. When challenged by the silencer transgene providing the pNOS RNA signal, reduction of the NPTII RNA levels in the F 1 generation varied by more than 100-fold, ranging from no reduction to reduction to <1% of the non-silenced level. Silencing was generally correlated with proportional DNA methylation in the pNOS region, except for one target transgene showing substantial DNA methylation without adequate silencing. Silencing was progressive through generations. Differences in the degree of silencing among the target transgenes were transmitted at least to the F 3 generation, and seemed to be influenced by transgene-flanking sequences. Apparently, close-by repeats promoted, whereas close-by functional genes diminished, the response to the silencing signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA methylation
  • Heterochromatin
  • Position effect
  • Repetitive sequences
  • Transcriptional gene silencing
  • Transgene expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Local DNA features affect RNA-directed transcriptional gene silencing and DNA methylation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this