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Science 331 (6013): 76-79

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Vernalization-Mediated Epigenetic Silencing by a Long Intronic Noncoding RNA

Jae Bok Heo1, and Sibum Sung1,*

Abstract: 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 Lys27 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.

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

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sbsung{at}

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