Arabidopsis proteins with a transposon-related domain act in gene silencing

Nat Commun. 2017 May 3;8:15122. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15122.


Transposable elements (TEs) are prevalent in most eukaryotes, and host genomes have devised silencing strategies to rein in TE activity. One of these, transcriptional silencing, is generally associated with DNA methylation and short interfering RNAs. Here we show that the Arabidopsis genes MAIL1 and MAIN define an alternative silencing pathway independent of DNA methylation and short interfering RNAs. Mutants for MAIL1 or MAIN exhibit release of silencing and appear to show impaired condensation of pericentromeric heterochromatin. Phylogenetic analysis suggests not only that MAIL1 and MAIN encode a retrotransposon-related plant mobile domain, but also that host plant mobile domains were captured by DNA transposons during plant evolution. Our results reveal a role for Arabidopsis proteins with a transposon-related domain in gene silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Centromere / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Protein Domains*
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Retroelements / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Heterochromatin
  • MAIL1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • MAIN protein, Arabidopsis
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Retroelements