The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 49: 707 - 716 (2005)

Vol 49, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Plant Development

Control of reproduction by Polycomb Group complexes in animals and plants

Published: 1 August 2005

Anne-Elisabeth Guitton and Frederic Berger*

Chromatin and Reproduction Group, Temasek Lifescience Laboratory, National University of Singapore, Singapore


In both mammals and plants, Polycomb Repressive Complexes 2 (PRC2) are conserved and appear to be involved in the transition between vegetative or somatic and reproductive state in plants and mammals. In plants at least three different PRC2 control temporal aspects of development, and mutations in PcG cause heterochronies. Such heterochronic mutations affect the transition to flowering. During gametogenesis the Fertilization-Independent Endosperm-MEDEA-PRC2 (FIE-MEA PRC2) complex controls gametogenesis in synergy with a Retinoblastoma-dependent pathway. Several genes of the FIE-MEA pathway are imprinted as shown by their uniparental allele expression in the endosperm, the interface controlling maternal nutrition of the embryo in the seed. Imprinting is also a major feature for genes expressed in the placenta in mammals. Recent data have shown that imprinting in both placenta and endosperm likely share similar mechanisms involving cooperation between the PRC2 complexes and DNA methylation


polycomb, endosperm, flowering, reproduction, placenta

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