Mechanism for full-length RNA processing of Arabidopsis genes containing intragenic heterochromatin

Nat Commun. 2013;4:2301. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3301.


Genomes of higher eukaryotes contain many transposable elements, which often localize within the transcribed regions of active genes. Although intragenic transposable elements can be silenced to form heterochromatin, the impact of intragenic heterochromatin on transcription and RNA processing remains largely unexplored. Here we show using a flowering plant, Arabidopsis, that full-length transcript formation over intragenic heterochromatin depends on a protein named IBM2 (Increase in Bonsai Methylation 2), which has a Bromo-Adjacent Homology domain and an RNA recognition motif. Mutation of ibm2 triggers premature termination of transcripts with 3' RNA processing around intragenic heterochromatin at loci including the H3K9 demethylase gene IBM1. The need for IBM2 is circumvented in variant alleles that lack the heterochromatic domain. Our results reveal a mechanism that masks deleterious effects of intragenic heterochromatin, providing evolutionary sources for genetic and epigenetic variations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • DNA Transposable Elements / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Heterochromatin / genetics*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Jumonji Domain-Containing Histone Demethylases / genetics*
  • Jumonji Domain-Containing Histone Demethylases / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones
  • IBM1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • IBM2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Jumonji Domain-Containing Histone Demethylases