Plant specific SGS3-like proteins are composed of various combinations of an RNA-binding XS domain, a zinc-finger zf-XS domain, a coil-coil domain and a domain of unknown function called XH. In addition to being involved in de novo 2 (IDN2) and SGS3, the Arabidopsis genome encodes 12 uncharacterized SGS3-like proteins. Here, we show that a group of SGS3-like proteins act redundantly in RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway in Arabidopsis. Transcriptome co-expression analyses reveal significantly correlated expression of two SGS3-like proteins, factor of DNA methylation 1 (FDM1) and FDM2 with known genes required for RdDM. The fdm1 and fdm2 double mutations but not the fdm1 or fdm2 single mutations significantly impair DNA methylation at RdDM loci, release transcriptional gene silencing and dramatically reduce the abundance of siRNAs originated from high copy number repeats or transposons. Like IDN2 and SGS3, FDM1 binds dsRNAs with 5′ overhangs. Double mutant analyses also reveal that IDN2 and three uncharacterized SGS3-like proteins FDM3, FDM4 and FDM5 have overlapping function with FDM1 in RdDM. Five FDM proteins and IDN2 define a group of SGS3-like proteins that possess all four-signature motifs in Arabidopsis. Thus, our results demonstrate that this group of SGS3-like proteins is an important component of RdDM. This study further enhances our understanding of the SGS3 gene family and the RdDM pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas