Project 2: Regulation of FLOWERING LOCUS T by distal enhancers and epigenetic repressors

Among functionally related gene groups highly enriched for PcG targets are those that promote reproductive development. Deciding when to flower is one of the most crucial decisions in a plant’s life cycle and therefore requires integration of environmental and developmental signals into a complex gene regulatory network. PcG targets promoting flowering are transcriptionally repressed during vegetative development while others, that repress flowering, acquire a PcG-repressed state in response to environmental or developmental cues. We have selected FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) for a detailed study of transcriptional regulation. FT and FT-like genes encode mobile proteins that act as a flowering hormone in many plant species. We showed that FT transcriptional regulation in response to photoperiod in leaves is dependent on two distal enhancers representing accessible chromatin islands within PcG-repressed chromatin [1,2,3]. Current and future efforts aim to elucidate how distinct distal enhancers can dynamically shift their contribution to FT expression dependent on tissue-type and the perception of different external cues.

[1] Adrian, J., S. Farrona, J.J. Reimer, M.C. Albani, G. Coupland and F. Turck (2010): cis-Regulatory Elements and Chromatin State Coordinately Control Temporal and Spatial Expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 22, 1425-1440 (2010). open access

[2] Liu L., Adrian J., Pankin A., Hu J., Dong X., von Korff M., and F. Turck. Induced and natural variation of promoter length modulates the photoperiodic response of FLOWERING LOCUS T. Nat Commun. 5:4558, doi: 10.1038/ncomms5558 (2014). Open access

[3] Zicola, J., Liu, L., Tänzler, P., Turck, F. (2019) Targeted DNA methylation represses two enhancers of FLOWERING LOCUS T in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature Plants 5, 300–307 doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0375-2 . open access

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