The lncRNA MARS modulates the epigenetic reprogramming of the marneral cluster in response to ABA

Mol Plant. 2022 May 2;15(5):840-856. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2022.02.007. Epub 2022 Feb 9.


Clustered organization of biosynthetic non-homologous genes is emerging as a characteristic feature of plant genomes. The co-regulation of clustered genes seems to largely depend on epigenetic reprogramming and three-dimensional chromatin conformation. In this study, we identified the long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) MARneral Silencing (MARS), localized inside the Arabidopsis marneral cluster, which controls the local epigenetic activation of its surrounding region in response to abscisic acid (ABA). MARS modulates the POLYCOMB REPRESSIVE COMPLEX 1 (PRC1) component LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (LHP1) binding throughout the cluster in a dose-dependent manner, determining H3K27me3 deposition and chromatin condensation. In response to ABA, MARS decoys LHP1 away from the cluster and promotes the formation of a chromatin loop bringing together the MARNERAL SYNTHASE 1 (MRN1) locus and a distal ABA-responsive enhancer. The enrichment of co-regulated lncRNAs in clustered metabolic genes in Arabidopsis suggests that the acquisition of novel non-coding transcriptional units may constitute an additional regulatory layer driving the evolution of biosynthetic pathways.

Keywords: ABA; LHP1; chromatin conformation; cluster; enhancer; epigenetics; lncRNA; marneral; seed germination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / pharmacology
  • Arabidopsis* / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromobox Protein Homolog 5
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • RNA, Long Noncoding* / genetics
  • Triterpenes


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Triterpenes
  • marneral
  • Chromobox Protein Homolog 5
  • Abscisic Acid