Inhibition of SAH-hydrolase activity during seed germination leads to deregulation of flowering genes and altered flower morphology in tobacco
Developmental processes are closely connected to certain states of epigenetic information which, among others, rely on methylation of chromatin. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) are key cofactors of enzymes catalyzing DNA and histone methylation. To study the consequences of altered SAH/SAM levels on plant development we applied 9-(S)-(2,3-dihydroxypropyl)-adenine (DHPA), an inhibitor of SAH-hydrolase, on tobacco seeds during a short phase of germination period (6 days). The transient drug treatment induced: (1) dosage-dependent global DNA hypomethylation mitotically transmitted to adult plants; (2) pleiotropic developmental defects including decreased apical dominance, altered leaf and flower symmetry, flower whorl malformations and reduced fertility; (3) dramatic upregulation of floral organ identity genes NTDEF, NTGLO and NAG1 in leaves. We conclude that temporal SAH-hydrolase inhibition deregulated floral genes expression probably via chromatin methylation changes. The data further show that plants might be particularly sensitive to accurate setting of SAH/SAM levels during critical developmental periods.