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Gene. 2012 Oct 1;507(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Characterization of Aquilegia Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 homologs reveals absence of imprinting.

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Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Ave. Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA.


Epigenetic regulation is important for maintaining gene expression patterns in multicellular organisms. The Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins form several complexes with important and deeply conserved epigenetic functions in both the plant and animal kingdoms. The plant Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) contains four core proteins, Enhancer of Zeste (E(z)), Suppressor of Zeste 12 (Su(z)12), Extra Sex Combs (ESC), and Multicopy Suppressor of IRA 1 (MSI1), and functions in many developmental transitions. In some plant species, including rice and Arabidopsis, duplications in the core PRC2 proteins allow the formation of PRC2s with distinct developmental functions. In addition, members of the plant specific VEL PHD family have been shown to associate with the PRC2 complex in Arabidopsis and may play a role in targeting the PRC2 to specific loci. Here we examine the evolution and expression of the PRC2 and VEL PHD families in Aquilegia, a member of the lower eudicot order Ranunculales and an emerging model for the investigation of plant ecology, evolution and developmental genetics. We find that Aquilegia has a relatively simple PRC2 with only one homolog of Su(z)12, ESC and MSI1 and two ancient copies of E(z), AqSWN and AqCLF. Aquilegia has four members of the VEL PHD family, three of which appear to be closely related to Arabidopsis proteins known to associate with the PRC2. The PRC2 and VEL PHD family proteins are expressed at a relatively constant level throughout Aquilegia vulgaris development, with the VEL PHD family and MSI1 expressed at higher levels during and after vernalization and in the inflorescence. Both AqSWN and AqCLF are expressed in Aquilegia endosperm but neither copy is imprinted.

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