Maize sex determination and abaxial leaf fates are canalized by a factor that maintains repressed epigenetic states

Dev Biol. 2007 Aug 15;308(2):462-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.06.004. Epub 2007 Jun 12.


In maize (Zea mays ssp. mays), the meiotically heritable maintenance of specific transcriptionally repressed epigenetic states is facilitated by a putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase encoded by mediator of paramutation1 (mop1) and an unknown factor encoded by the required to maintain repression6 (rmr6) locus. These so-called "paramutant" states occur at certain alleles of loci encoding regulators of anthocyanin pigment biosynthesis. Here we show Rmr6 acts to canalize leaf and inflorescence development by prohibiting the ectopic action of key developmental regulators. Phenotypic and genetic analyses suggest that Rmr6 ensures proper adaxial-abaxial polarity of the leaf sheath by limiting the expression domain of a putative adaxializing factor. Similar tests indicate that Rmr6 maintains maize's monoecious pattern of sex determination by restricting the function of the pistil-protecting factor, silkless1, from the apical inflorescence. Phenotypic similarities with mop1 mutant plants together with current models of heterochromatin maintenance and leaf polarity imply Rmr6 functions to maintain epigenetic repression established by non-coding small RNA molecules.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • DNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Genes, Plant
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / growth & development*
  • Zea mays / metabolism


  • DNA, Plant