The DME demethylase regulates sporophyte gene expression, cell proliferation, differentiation, and meristem resurrection

Seohyun Kim, Jin Sup Park, Jaehoon Lee, Kiseok Keith Lee, Ok Sun Park, Hee Seung Choi, Pil Joon Seo, Hyung Taeg Cho, Jennifer M. Frost, Robert L. Fischer*, Yeonhee Choi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The flowering plant life cycle consists of alternating haploid (gametophyte) and diploid (sporophyte) generations, where the sporophytic generation begins with fertilization of haploid gametes. In Arabidopsis, genome-wide DNA demethylation is required for normal development, catalyzed by the DEMETER (DME) DNA demethylase in the gamete companion cells of male and female gametophytes. In the sporophyte, postembryonic growth and development are largely dependent on the activity of numerous stem cell niches, or meristems. Analyzing Arabidopsis plants homozygous for a loss-of-function dme-2 allele, we show that DME influences many aspects of sporophytic growth and development. dme-2 mutants exhibited delayed seed germination, variable root hair growth, aberrant cellular proliferation and differentiation followed by enhanced de novo shoot formation, dysregulation of root quiescence and stomatal precursor cells, and inflorescence meristem (IM) resurrection. We also show that sporophytic DME activity exerts a profound effect on the transcriptome of developing Arabidopsis plants, including discrete groups of regulatory genes that are misregulated in dme-2 mutant tissues, allowing us to potentially link phenotypes to changes in specific gene expression pathways. These results show that DME plays a key role in sporophytic development and suggest that DME-mediated active DNA demethylation may be involved in the maintenance of stem cell activities during the sporophytic life cycle in Arabidopsis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2026806118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • DNA demethylation | sprorophytic development | cell proliferation | pluripotency


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