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Science. 2011 Jan 7;331(6013):76-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1197349. Epub 2010 Dec 2.

Vernalization-mediated epigenetic silencing by a long intronic noncoding RNA.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology and Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the University of Texas at Austin, TX 78712, USA.


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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