Genome-wide non-mendelian inheritance of extra-genomic information in Arabidopsis

Nature. 2005 Mar 24;434(7032):505-9. doi: 10.1038/nature03380.


A fundamental tenet of classical mendelian genetics is that allelic information is stably inherited from one generation to the next, resulting in predictable segregation patterns of differing alleles. Although several exceptions to this principle are known, all represent specialized cases that are mechanistically restricted to either a limited set of specific genes (for example mating type conversion in yeast) or specific types of alleles (for example alleles containing transposons or repeated sequences). Here we show that Arabidopsis plants homozygous for recessive mutant alleles of the organ fusion gene HOTHEAD (HTH) can inherit allele-specific DNA sequence information that was not present in the chromosomal genome of their parents but was present in previous generations. This previously undescribed process is shown to occur at all DNA sequence polymorphisms examined and therefore seems to be a general mechanism for extra-genomic inheritance of DNA sequence information. We postulate that these genetic restoration events are the result of a template-directed process that makes use of an ancestral RNA-sequence cache.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arabidopsis / embryology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Genes, Recessive / genetics
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Genomic Instability / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Suppression, Genetic / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Genetic Markers