PAF1-complex-mediated histone methylation of FLOWERING LOCUS C chromatin is required for the vernalization-responsive, winter-annual habit in Arabidopsis

Yuehui He, Mark R Doyle, Richard M Amasino
Genes & Development 2004 November 15, 18 (22): 2774-84
The winter-annual habit (which typically involves a requirement for exposure to the cold of winter to flower in the spring) in Arabidopsis thaliana is mainly due to the repression of flowering by relatively high levels of FLC expression. Exposure to prolonged cold attenuates FLC expression through a process known as vernalization and thus permits flowering to occur in the spring. Here we show that the elevated FLC expression characteristic of nonvernalized winter annuals requires two genes, EARLY FLOWERING 7 (ELF7) and EARLY FLOWERING 8 (ELF8), that are homologs of components of the PAF1 complex of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Furthermore, ELF7 and ELF8 are also required for the expression of other genes in the FLC clade of flowering repressors such as MAF2 and FLM. FLC, FLM, and MAF2 are involved in multiple flowering pathways that account for the broad effects of elf7 and elf8 mutations on flowering behavior. ELF7 and ELF8 are required for the enhancement of histone 3 trimethylation at Lys 4 in FLC chromatin. This modification of FLC chromatin appears to be required to elevate FLC expression to levels that can delay flowering in plants that have not been vernalized. A model of the role of ELF7, ELF8, and other previously described genes in the modification of the chromatin of flowering repressors is presented.

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