The relationship between DNA methylation and chromosome imprinting in the coccid Planococcus citri.
The phenomenon of chromosome, or genomic, imprinting indicates the relevance of parental origin in determining functional differences between alleles, homologous chromosomes, or haploid sets. In mealybug males (Homoptera, Coccoidea), the haploid set of paternal origin undergoes heterochromatization at midcleavage and remains so in most of the tissues. This different behaviour of the two haploid sets, which depends on their parental origin, represents one of the most striking examples of chromosome imprinting. In mammals, DNA methylation has been postulated as a possible molecular mechanism to differentially imprint DNA sequences during spermatogenesis or oogenesis. The role of DNA methylation in the imprinting of whole haploid sets as it occurs in coccids is examined. The DNA methylation patterns at both the molecular and chromosomal level in P. citri were studied. In both males and females the paternally derived haploid set is hypomethylated with respect to the maternally derived one. Therefore, in males, it is the paternally derived hypomethylated haploid set that is heterochromatized. The data suggested that the two haploid sets are imprinted by parent-of-origin-specific DNA methylation with no correlation with the known gene-silencing properties of this base modification.