Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Chill Wind

Science Signaling  11 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 155, pp. ec13
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4155ec13

For many plants, the chilly temperatures of winter act to coordinate flowering with the more favorable growth environment that follows in springtime. This process of vernalization translates environmental temperatures into developmental responses through a cascade of molecular responses that depend on epigenetic regulation of the floral repressor. Heo and Sung (see the Perspective by Turck and Coupland) have identified an RNA that is transcribed from an intron of the repressor gene but that itself does not encode a protein. Instead, this noncoding RNA, called COLDAIR, adds a histone-methylating complex onto the repressor locus. With the repressive gene itself repressed, the stage is then set to allow flowering.

J. B. Heo, S. Sung, Vernalization-mediated epigenetic silencing by a long intronic noncoding RNA. Science 331, 76–79 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

F. Turck, G. Coupland, When vernalization makes sense. Science 331, 36–37 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]