H2A deubiquitinases UBP12/13 are part of the Arabidopsis polycomb group protein system

Nat Plants. 2016 Aug 15;2:16126. doi: 10.1038/nplants.2016.126.


Polycomb group (PcG) proteins form an epigenetic memory system in plants and animals, but interacting proteins are poorly known in plants. Here, we have identified Arabidopsis UBIQUITIN SPECIFIC PROTEASES (USP; UBP in plant and yeasts) 12 and 13 as partners of the plant-specific PcG protein LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (LHP1). UBP12 binds to chromatin of PcG target genes and is required for histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation and repression of a subset of PcG target genes. Plants lacking UBP12 and UBP13 developed autonomous endosperm in the absence of fertilization. We have identified UBP12 and UBP13 as new proteins in the plant PcG regulatory network. UBP12 and UBP13 belong to an ancient gene family and represent plant homologues of metazoan USP7. We have found that Drosophila USP7 shares a function in heterochromatic gene repression with UBP12/13 and their homologue UBP26. In summary, we demonstrate that USP7-like proteins are essential for gene silencing in diverse genomic contexts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / genetics*
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Endopeptidases
  • UBP12 protein, Arabidopsis
  • UBP13 protein, Arabidopsis