Hypomorphic alleles reveal FCA-independent roles for FY in the regulation of FLOWERING LOCUS C

Wei Feng, Yannick Jacob, Kira M Veley, Lei Ding, Xuhong Yu, Goh Choe, Scott D Michaels
Plant Physiology 2011, 155 (3): 1425-34
The autonomous floral promotion pathway plays a key role in the regulation of flowering in rapid-cycling Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) by providing constitutive repression of the floral inhibitor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). As a result, autonomous pathway mutants contain elevated levels of FLC and are late flowering. Winter annual Arabidopsis, in contrast, contain functional alleles of FRIGIDA (FRI), which acts epistatically to the autonomous pathway to up-regulate FLC and delay flowering. To further explore the relationship between FRI and the autonomous pathway, we placed autonomous pathway mutants in a FRI-containing background. Unexpectedly, we found that a hypomorphic allele of the autonomous pathway gene fy (fy null alleles are embryo lethal) displayed background-specific effects on FLC expression and flowering time; in a rapid-cycling background fy mutants contained elevated levels of FLC and were late flowering, whereas in a winter annual background fy decreased FLC levels and partially suppressed the late-flowering phenotype conferred by FRI. Because FY has been shown to have homology to polyadenylation factors, we examined polyadenylation site selection in FLC transcripts. In wild type, two polyadenylation sites were detected and used at similar levels. In fy mutant backgrounds, however, the ratio of products was shifted to favor the distally polyadenylated form. FY has previously been shown to physically interact with another member of the autonomous pathway, FCA. Interestingly, we found that fy can partially suppress FLC expression in an fca null background and promote proximal polyadenylation site selection usage in the absence of FCA. Taken together, these results indicate novel and FCA-independent roles for FY in the regulation of FLC.

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