The spen family protein FPA is required for flowering time control and has been implicated in RNA silencing. The mechanism by which FPA carries out these functions is unknown. We report the identification of an activity for FPA in controlling mRNA 3' end formation. We show that FPA functions redundantly with FCA, another RNA binding protein that controls flowering and RNA silencing, to control the expression of alternatively polyadenylated antisense RNAs at the locus encoding the floral repressor FLC. In addition, we show that defective 3' end formation at an upstream RNA polymerase II-dependent gene explains the apparent derepression of the AtSN1 retroelement in fpa mutants. Transcript readthrough accounts for the absence of changes in DNA methylation and siRNA abundance at AtSN1 in fpa mutants, and this may explain other examples of epigenetic transitions not associated with chromatin modification.
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