Polycomb group complexes self-regulate imprinting of the polycomb group gene MEDEA in Arabidopsis

Pauline E. Jullien, Aviva Katz, Moran Oliva, Nir Ohad*, Frédéric Berger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Fertilization in flowering plants initiates the development of the embryo and endosperm, which nurtures the embryo. A few genes subjected to imprinting are expressed in endosperm from their maternal allele, while their paternal allele remains silenced [1-3]. Imprinting of the FWA gene involves DNA methylation [4]. Mechanisms controlling imprinting of the Polycomb group (Pc-G) gene MEDEA (MEA) [5] are not yet fully understood [6-10]. Here we report that MEA imprinting is regulated by histone methylation. This epigenetic chromatin modification is mediated by several Pc-G activities during the entire plant life cycle. We show that Pc-G complexes maintain MEA transcription silenced throughout vegetative life and male gametogenesis. In endosperm, the maternal allele of MEA encodes an essential component of a Pc-G complex, which maintains silencing of the paternal MEA allele. Hence, we conclude that a feedback loop controls MEA imprinting. This feedback loop ensures a complete maternal control of MEA expression from both parental alleles and might have provided a template for evolution of imprinting in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-492
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2006


FundersFunder number
United States - Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development FundIS-3604-04c
National University of Singapore
Israel Science Foundation574-04
Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory


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