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A cis cold memory element and a trans epigenome reader mediate Polycomb silencing of FLC by vernalization in Arabidopsis

Nature Genetics volume 48, pages 15271534 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Some plants acquire competence to flower in spring after experiencing a seasonal temperature drop—winter cold, in a process termed vernalization. In Arabidopsis thaliana, prolonged exposure to cold induces epigenetic silencing of the potent floral repressor locus FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins, and this silencing is stably maintained in subsequent growth and development upon return to warm temperatures. Here we show that a cis-regulatory DNA element in the nucleation region for PcG silencing at FLC and two homologous trans-acting epigenome readers, VAL1 and VAL2, control vernalization-mediated FLC silencing. The sequence-specific readers recognize both the cis element (termed the cold memory element) and a repressive mark, trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3), and directly associate with LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (LHP1), leading to establishment of the H3K27me3 peak in the nucleation region at FLC during vernalization. Thus, our work describes a mechanism for PcG-mediated silencing by a DNA sequence-specific epigenome reader.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. Suzuki (University of Florida) for kindly providing val1 and val2 seeds and the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (Belgium) for providing pBGW vector. This work was supported in part by funding from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (grant 2016YFA0503200 to J.D.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Wenya Yuan
    • , Wannian Yang
    •  & Yizhong Wang

    Present addresses: Novolife Biomedical Research Co. Ltd., Beijing, China (W. Yuan) and School of Life Sciences, Huazhong Normal University, Wuhan, China (W. Yang and Y.W.).

Affiliations

  1. Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, CAS Center for Excellence of Molecular Plant Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

    • Wenya Yuan
    • , Xiao Luo
    • , Zicong Li
    • , Yizhong Wang
    • , Rui Liu
    • , Jiamu Du
    •  & Yuehui He
  2. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

    • Wenya Yuan
    • , Wannian Yang
    •  & Yuehui He

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Contributions

Y.H. conceived the project. W. Yuan, X.L., Z.L., W. Yang, Y.W., and R.L. performed the experiments. W. Yuan, X.L., Z.L., W. Yang, Y.W., R.L., J.D., and Y.H. analyzed the data. Y.H. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuehui He.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.3712

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