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Ioanna Kakoulidou and Frank Johannes review current insights into the patterns and mechanisms of DNA methylation remodeling in intra-specific hybrids.

DNA methylation remodeling in F1 hybrids.

The Plant Journal

Ioanna Kakoulidou, Frank Johannes (2023)

F1 hybrids derived from a cross between two inbred parental lines often display widespread changes in DNA methylation patterns relative to their parents. To which extent these changes drive non-additive gene expression levels and phenotypic heterosis in F1 individuals is not fully resolved. Current mechanistic models propose that DNA methylation remodeling in hybrids is the result of epigenetic interactions between parental alleles via small interfering RNA (sRNA). These models have strong empirical support but are limited to genomic regions where the two parental lines differ in DNA methylation status. However, most remodeling events occur in parental regions with similar methylation patterns, and seem to be strongly conditioned by distally-acting factors, even in isogenic hybrid systems. The molecular basis of these distal interactions is currently unknown, and will likely emerge as an active area of research in the future. Despite these gaps in our molecular understanding, parental DNA methylation states are statistically associated with heterosis, independent of genetic information, and may serve as biomarkers in crop breeding.