Genetic analysis of early flowering mutants in Arabidopsis defines a class of pleiotropic developmental regulator required for expression of the flowering-time switch flowering locus C

Genetics. 2003 May;164(1):347-58.


The Arabidopsis flowering-repressor gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) is a developmental switch used to trigger floral induction after extended growth in the cold, a process termed vernalization. In vernalized plants, FLC becomes transcriptionally silenced through a process that involves an epigenetic mechanism. We identified recessive mutations designated vernalization independence (vip) that confer cold-independent flowering and suppression of FLC. These mutations also lead to developmental pleiotropy, including specific defects in floral morphology, indicating that the associated genes also have functions unrelated to flowering time. We identified the VIP3 gene by positional cloning and found that it encodes a protein consisting almost exclusively of repeated Trp-Asp (WD) motifs, suggesting that VIP3 could act as a platform to assemble a protein complex. Constitutive transgenic expression of VIP3 in vernalized plants is insufficient to activate FLC, and thus VIP3 probably participates in the regulation of FLC as one component of a more extensive mechanism. Consistent with this, genetic analyses revealed that the VIP loci define a functional gene class including at least six additional members. We suggest that VIP3 and other members of this gene class could represent a previously unrecognized flowering mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Flowering Tops / genetics*
  • Flowering Tops / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • MADS Domain Proteins / genetics*
  • MADS Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Plants, Genetically Modified


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • FLF protein, Arabidopsis
  • FRI protein, Arabidopsis
  • LD protein, Arabidopsis
  • MADS Domain Proteins