Global analysis of genetic, epigenetic and transcriptional polymorphisms in Arabidopsis thaliana using whole genome tiling arrays

Xu Zhang*, Shinhan Shiu, Andrew Cal, Justin O. Borevitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


Whole genome tiling arrays provide a high resolution platform for profiling of genetic, epigenetic, and gene expression polymorphisms. In this study we surveyed natural genomic variation in cytosine methylation among Arabidopsis thaliana wild accessions Columbia (Col) and Vancouver (Van) by comparing hybridization intensity difference between genomic DNA digested with either methylation-sensitive (HpaII) or -insensitive (MspI) restriction enzyme. Single Feature Polymorphisms (SFPs) were assayed on a full set of 1,683,620 unique features of Arabidopsis Tiling Array 1.0F (Affymetrix), while constitutive and polymorphic CG methylation were assayed on a subset of 54,519 features, which contain a 59CCGG39 restriction site. 138,552 SFPs (1% FDR) were identified across enzyme treatments, which preferentially accumulated in pericentromeric regions. Our study also demonstrates that at least 8% of all analyzed CCGG sites were constitutively methylated across the two strains, while about 10% of all analyzed CCGG sites were differentially methylated between the two strains. Within euchromatin arms, both constitutive and polymorphic CG methylation accumulated in central regions of genes but under-represented toward the 5′ and 3′ ends of the coding sequences. Nevertheless, polymorphic methylation occurred much more frequently in gene ends than constitutive methylation. Inheritance of methylation polymorphisms in reciprocal F1 hybrids was predominantly additive, with F1 plants generally showing levels of methylation intermediate between the parents. By comparing gene expression profiles, using matched tissue samples, we found that magnitude of methylation polymorphism immediately upstream or downstream of the gene was inversely correlated with the degree of expression variation for that gene. In contrast, methylation polymorphism within genic region showed weak positive correlation with expression variation. Our results demonstrated extensive genetic and epigenetic polymorphisms between Arabidopsis accessions and suggested a possible relationship between natural CG methylation variation and gene expression variation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000032
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


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