Targeted DNA methylation represses two enhancers of FLOWERING LOCUS T in Arabidopsis thaliana


FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) plays a major role in regulating the floral transition in response to an inductive long day photoperiod in Arabidopsis thaliana. Expression of FT in leaves is dependent on the distal transcriptional enhancer Block C, located 5-kilobases (kb) upstream of the transcriptional start site (TSS). We expressed an inverted repeat of Block C to induce local DNA methylation and heterochromatin formation, which lead to FT downregulation in an inductive photoperiod. Using targeted DNA methylation as a tool to uncover further regulatory regions at the FT locus, we identified Block E, located 1 kb downstream of the gene, as a novel enhancer of FT. As Block C, Block E is conserved across Brassicaceae and located in accessible chromatin. Block C and E act as additive transcriptional enhancers that, in combination with the proximal FT promoter, control expression of FT in response to photoperiod in the leaf phloem.

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Fig. 1: Floral transition is delayed and FT expression downregulated in Block C IR-containing plants.
Fig. 2: DNA methylation is set at Block C in IR-containing plants.
Fig. 3: Block E is a novel regulatory element located downstream of FT.
Fig. 4: Block E drives GUS expression in long day conditions.

Data availability

All data and materials generated in this study are available without restriction. Sequencing data for smRNA-seq are available in NCBI (BioProject PRJNA427142). Scripts and additional data are available on the GitHub repository


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This work was supported by the Marie Curie ITN grant (no. GA-316965), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (no. DFG TU-126/6) and core funding of the Max Planck Society.

Author information

F.T., J.Z. and L.L. designed the experiments. J.Z., P.T. and L.L. performed the experiments. J.Z. and F.T. wrote the manuscript. F.T. obtained the funding.

Correspondence to Franziska Turck.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–9, Supplementary Sequences, Supplementary Scripts and Supplementary Data.

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Zicola, J., Liu, L., Tänzler, P. et al. Targeted DNA methylation represses two enhancers of FLOWERING LOCUS T in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nat. Plants 5, 300–307 (2019).

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