Transcriptional read-through of the long non-coding RNA SVALKA governs plant cold acclimation

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Most DNA in the genomes of higher organisms does not encode proteins, yet much is transcribed by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) into long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). The biological significance of most lncRNAs is largely unclear. Here, we identify a lncRNA (SVALKA) in a cold-sensitive region of the Arabidopsis genome. Mutations in SVALKA affect CBF1 expression and freezing tolerance. RNAPII read-through transcription of SVALKA results in a cryptic lncRNA overlapping CBF1 on the antisense strand, termed asCBF1. Our molecular dissection reveals that CBF1 is suppressed by RNAPII collision stemming from the SVALKA-asCBF1 lncRNA cascade. The SVALKA-asCBF1 cascade provides a mechanism to tightly control CBF1 expression and timing that could be exploited to maximize freezing tolerance with mitigated fitness costs. Our results provide a compelling example of local gene regulation by lncRNA transcription having a profound impact on the ability of plants to appropriately acclimate to challenging environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4561
JournalNature Communications
Pages (from-to)1-11
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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