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Plant Physiol. 2008 Jun;147(2):682-95. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.118927. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Functional redundancy and new roles for genes of the autonomous floral-promotion pathway.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


The early-flowering habit of rapid-cycling accessions of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is, in part, due to the genes of the autonomous floral-promotion pathway (AP). The AP promotes flowering by repressing expression of the floral inhibitor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). AP mutants are therefore late flowering due to elevated levels of FLC, and this late-flowering phenotype is eliminated by loss-of-function mutations in FLC. To further investigate the role of the AP, we created a series of double mutants. In contrast to the phenotypes of single mutants, which are largely limited to delayed flowering, a subset of AP double mutants show a range of defects in growth and development. These phenotypes include reduced size, chlorophyll content, growth rate, and fertility. Unlike the effects of the AP on flowering time, these phenotypes are FLC independent. Recent work has also shown that two AP genes, FCA and FPA, are required for the repression and, in some cases, proper DNA methylation of two transposons. We show that similar effects are seen for all AP genes tested. Microarray analysis of gene expression in AP single and double mutants, however, suggests that the AP is not likely to play a broad role in the repression of gene expression through DNA methylation: very few of the genes that have been reported to be up-regulated in DNA methylation mutants are misexpressed in AP mutants. Together, these data indicate that the genes of the AP play important and sometimes functionally redundant roles in aspects of development in addition to flowering time.

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