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Can Argonautes provide demethylation specificity in Arabidopsis thaliana?

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Small RNAs are able to guide DNA methylation at target loci through Argonaute-mediated recruitment of chromatin remodelling factors. DNA methylation can be actively removed by DNA glycosylases, which target specific regions of the genome for demethylation. However, it is unknown what factors provide targeting specificity for DNA glycosylases. It has been hypothesized that small RNAs could provide the required specificity.

I am currently investigating a locus which is targeted for demethylation by DNA glycosylases and also requires Argonautes in order to remain demethylated. Demethylation at this locus is also required for the regulation of an adjacent gene which may itself be involved in DNA demethylation itself.

In the future, I will directly test the hypothesis that small RNAs can function through Argonaute proteins in order to provide a specificity factor for directing DNA demethylation. This research will improve our understanding of how genes are targeted for DNA demethylation in plants as well as insight into the interaction between RNA silencing and DNA demethylation.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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