Vernalization-mediated epigenetic silencing by a long intronic noncoding RNA

Jae Bok Heo, Sibum Sung
Science 2011 January 7, 331 (6013): 76-9
Vernalization is an environmentally-induced epigenetic switch in which winter cold triggers epigenetic silencing of floral repressors and thus provides competence to flower in spring. In Arabidopsis, winter cold triggers enrichment of tri-methylated histone H3 Lys(27) at chromatin of the floral repressor, FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), and results in epigenetically stable repression of FLC. This epigenetic change is mediated by an evolutionarily conserved repressive complex, polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Here, we show that a long intronic noncoding RNA [termed COLD ASSISTED INTRONIC NONCODING RNA (COLDAIR)] is required for the vernalization-mediated epigenetic repression of FLC. COLDAIR physically associates with a component of PRC2 and targets PRC2 to FLC. Our results show that COLDAIR is required for establishing stable repressive chromatin at FLC through its interaction with PRC2.

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