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Plant Cell. 2004 Nov;16(11):2940-53. Epub 2004 Oct 7.

A mechanism related to the yeast transcriptional regulator Paf1c is required for expression of the Arabidopsis FLC/MAF MADS box gene family.

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Plant Breeding and Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


The Arabidopsis thaliana VERNALIZATION INDEPENDENCE (VIP) gene class has multiple functions in development, including repression of flowering through activation of the MADSbox gene FLC. Epigenetic silencing of FLC plays a substantial role in the promotion of flowering through cold (vernalization). To better understand how VIP genes influence development, we undertook a genetic and molecular study of the previously uncharacterized VIP5 and VIP6 genes. We found that loss of function of these genes also resulted in downregulation of other members of the FLC/MAF gene family, including the photoperiodic pathway regulator MAF1/FLM. We cloned VIP5 and VIP6 through mapping and transcriptional profiling. Both proteins are closely related to distinct components of budding yeast Paf1C, a transcription factor that assists in establishment and maintenance of transcription-promotive chromatin modifications such as ubiquitination of H2B by Bre1/Rad6 and methylation of histone H3 lysine-4 by the trithorax-related histone methylase Set1. Genetic analysis and coimmunoprecipitation experiments suggest that VIP5 and VIP6 function in the same mechanism as the previously described VIP3 and VIP4. Our findings suggest that an evolutionarily conserved transcriptional mechanism plays an essential role in the maintenance of gene expression in higher eukaryotes and has a central function in flowering.

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