FLC, a repressor of flowering, is regulated by genes in different inductive pathways

Dean T Rouse, Candice C Sheldon, David J Bagnall, W James Peacock, Elizabeth S Dennis
Plant Journal 2002, 29 (2): 183-91
The MADS-box protein encoded by FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) is a repressor of flowering. Loci in the autonomous flowering pathway control FLC levels. We show the epistatic groupings of autonomous pathway mutants fca/fy and fve/fpa, based on their effects on flowering time, are consistent with their effects on FLC transcript and protein levels. We demonstrate that synergistic increases in FLC mRNA and protein expression occur in response to interactions between the autonomous pathway mutants fca and fpa and mutants in other pathways (fe, ft, fha) that do not regulate FLC when present as single mutants. These changes in FLC levels provide the molecular basis of the interactions previously shown in genetic analyses. The interactions between genes of multiple pathways emphasize the central position of FLC in the control of floral initiation. FLC protein levels match those of its mRNA for a range of genetic, developmental and environmental variables, indicating that control of FLC is at the level of transcription or transcript stability. The autonomous and photoperiod pathways also interact at the level of SOC1. FLC acts as a repressor of SOC1, and SOC1 levels are low when FLC levels are high. In C24 plants which have moderately high FLC levels, flowering occurs without a decrease in FLC level, but the SOC1 level does increase. Thus SOC1 levels can be upregulated through the activities of other pathways, despite the repression by FLC.

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