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Epigenetics. 2010 Jan 1;5(1):4-8. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

Plant-specific multisubunit RNA polymerase in gene silencing.

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  • 1Laboratoire Génome et Développement des Plantes (LGDP), CNRS/IRD/Université de Perpignan UMR 5096, Perpignan, France.


In recent years, a major breakthrough in the study of epigenetic silencing in eukaryotes came with the discovery that the RNA-interference pathway (RNAi) is generally implicated in heterochromatin assembly and gene silencing. An important and paradoxical feature of the RNAi-mediated heterochromatin pathways is their requirement for some form of transcription. In fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, centromeric siRNAs have been shown to derive from chromatin-bound nascent transcripts produced by RNA polymerase II (PolII) at the site of heterochromatin formation. Likewise, chromatin-bound nascent transcripts generated by a PolII-related DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, known as PolIVb/PolV, have recently been implicated in RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM), the prominent RNAi-mediated chromatin pathway in plants. In this review we discuss recent work on the plant-specific PolII variant enzymes and discuss the mechanistic convergences that have been observed in the role of these enzymes in their respective siRNA-mediated heterochromatin formation pathways.

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