DNA methylation analysis of the rice transposable elements mPing and Ping
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Transposable elements are widely distributed in eukaryotes where they usually comprise the largest fraction of the genome. The Tourist-like MITE mPing was the first active DNA transposon discovered in rice. mPing copy number varies dramatically in different rice cultivars from less than 50 to over 1,000 copies. In this study we analyzed the methylation patterns of mPing and Ping from which it was derived by internal deletion in the high-copy strain Gimbozu EG4 and the low-copy strain Nipponbare. Our results demonstrate that mPing is heavily methylated overall in both strains, and that methylation of mPing does not prevent its movement. There are seven Pings in EG4 and one in Nipponbare. The terminal ends of Ping are heavily methylated similar to mPing. The low and variable methylation pattern of Ping ORF1 promoter region suggested a correlation between methylation and Ping TPase transcription, which may be the control point of mPing transposition. More experiments are ongoing to unravel the mystery of mPing activity.