Independent chromatin binding of ARGONAUTE4 and SPT5L/KTF1 mediates transcriptional gene silencing

M. Jordan Rowley, Maria I. Avrutsky, Christopher J. Sifuentes, Ligia Pereira, Andrzej T. Wierzbicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Eukaryotic genomes contain significant amounts of transposons and repetitive DNA elements, which, if transcribed, can be detrimental to the organism. Expression of these elements is suppressed by establishment of repressive chromatin modifications. In Arabidopsis thaliana, they are silenced by the siRNA-mediated transcriptional gene silencing pathway where long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) produced by RNA Polymerase V (Pol V) guide ARGONAUTE4 (AGO4) to chromatin and attract enzymes that establish repressive chromatin modifications. It is unknown how chromatin modifying enzymes are recruited to chromatin. We show through chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) that SPT5L/KTF1, a silencing factor and a homolog of SPT5 elongation factors, binds chromatin at loci subject to transcriptional silencing. Chromatin binding of SPT5L/KTF1 occurs downstream of RNA Polymerase V, but independently from the presence of 24-nt siRNA. We also show that SPT5L/KTF1 and AGO4 are recruited to chromatin in parallel and independently of each other. As shown using methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes, binding of both AGO4 and SPT5L/KTF1 is required for DNA methylation and repressive histone modifications of several loci. We propose that the coordinate binding of SPT5L and AGO4 creates a platform for direct or indirect recruitment of chromatin modifying enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002120
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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