FLC: A hidden polycomb response element shows up in silence

Diana Mihaela Buzas, Yosuke Tamada, Tetsuya Kurata

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    A sizeable fraction of eukaryotic genomes is regulated by Polycomb group (PcG) and trithorax group (trxG) proteins, which play key roles in epigenetic repression and activation, respectively. In Drosophila melanogaster, homeotic genes are well-documented PcG targets; they are known to contain cis-acting elements termed Polycomb response elements (PREs), which bind PcG proteins and satisfy three defined criteria, and also often contain binding sites for the trithorax (trx) protein. However, the presence of PREs, or an alternative mode for PcG/trxG interaction with the genome, has not been well documented outside Drosophila. In Arabidopsis thaliana, PcG/trxG regulation has been studied extensively for the flowering repressor gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Here we evaluate how PRE-like activities that reside within the FLC locus may satisfy the defined Drosophila criteria, by analyzing four FLC transcription states. When the FLC locus is not transcribed, the intrinsic PcG recruitment ability of the coding region can be attributed to two redundant cis-acting elements (Modules IIA and IIB). When FLC is highly expressed, trxG recruitment is to a region overlapping the transcription start site (Module I). Exposure to prolonged cold converts the active FLC state into a repressed state that is maintained after the cold period finishes. These two additional transcriptional states also rely on the same three modules for PcG/trxG regulation. We conclude that each of Modules I, IIA and IIB partially fulfills the PRE function criteria, and that together they represent the functional FLC PRE, which differs structurally from canonical PREs in Drosophila.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)785-793
    Number of pages9
    JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 May


    • Epigenetic regulation
    • Polycomb group
    • Polycomb response element
    • Trithorax group
    • cis-element

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Plant Science
    • Cell Biology


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