Steimer, A., Amedeo, P., Afsar, K., Fransz, P., Mittelsten Scheid, O., Paszkowski, J.
Endogenous Targets of Transcriptional Gene Silencing In Arabidopsis
Plant Cell. 2000 Jul 01; 12(7): 1165-78.
Transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) frequently inactivates foreign genes integrated into plant genomes but very likely also suppresses an unknown subset of chromosomal information. Accordingly, RNA analysis of mutants impaired in silencing should uncover endogenous targets of this epigenetic regulation. We compared transcripts from wild-type Arabidopsis carrying a silent transgene with RNA from an isogenic transgene-expressing TGS mutant. Two cDNA clones were identified representing endogenous RNA expressed only in the mutant. The synthesis of these RNAs was found to be released in several mutants affected in TGS, implying that TGS in general and not a particular mutation controls the transcriptional activity of their templates. Detailed analysis revealed that the two clones are part of longer transcripts termed TSI (for transcriptionally silent information). Two major classes of related TSI transcripts were found in a mutant cDNA library. They are synthesized from repeats present in heterochromatic pericentromeric regions of Arabidopsis chromosomes. These repeats share sequence homology with the 3' terminal part of the putative retrotransposon Athila. However, the transcriptional activation does not include the transposon itself and does not promote its movement. There is no evidence for a general release of silencing from retroelements. Thus, foreign genes in plants encounter the epigenetic control normally directed, at least in part, toward a subset of pericentromeric repeats.
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