DEMETER, a DNA glycosylase domain protein, is required for endosperm gene imprinting and seed viability in arabidopsis

Cell. 2002 Jul 12;110(1):33-42. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(02)00807-3.


We isolated mutations in Arabidopsis to understand how the female gametophyte controls embryo and endosperm development. For the DEMETER (DME) gene, seed viability depends only on the maternal allele. DME encodes a large protein with DNA glycosylase and nuclear localization domains. DME is expressed primarily in the central cell of the female gametophyte, the progenitor of the endosperm. DME is required for maternal allele expression of the imprinted MEDEA (MEA) Polycomb gene in the central cell and endosperm. Ectopic DME expression in endosperm activates expression of the normally silenced paternal MEA allele. In leaf, ectopic DME expression induces MEA and nicks the MEA promoter. Thus, a DNA glycosylase activates maternal expression of an imprinted gene in the central cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arabidopsis / embryology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Glycosylases
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases / genetics
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases / metabolism
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases / physiology*
  • Plant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Seeds / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Trans-Activators*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MEA protein, Arabidopsis
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • Trans-Activators
  • DEMETER protein, Arabidopsis
  • DNA Glycosylases
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases