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Non-cell-autonomous small RNA silencing in Arabidopsis female gametes

In recent years, small RNA movement has been both hypothesized and shown to be an integral part of the epigenetic DNA methylation reprogramming occurring during plant reproduction. It was suggested that the release of epigenetic silencing in accessory cell types or tissues is necessary to reinforce epigenetic silencing in the gametes (egg cell and sperm cells), which would in turn ensure the genomic stability of the next generation plant. In Arabidopsis thaliana, small RNA (sRNA) movement was indeed shown to occur during male gametogenesis. However, the situation within the female gametophyte and in early seed development is mostly unknown. Here, we show that small RNAs can induce non-cell-autonomous silencing from the central cell toward the egg cell but also from the synergids to the egg cell and central cell. Our data show that in addition to the movement of sRNAs during pollen development, hairpin RNAs can have non-cell-autonomous effects in the female gametes.

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Epigenetic dynamics during sexual reproduction: At the nexus of developmental control and genomic integrity

Epigenetic marks influence gene regulation and genomic stability via the repression of transposable elements. During sexual reproduction, tight regulation of the epigenome must take place to maintain the repression of transposable elements while still allowing changes in cell-specific transcriptional programs. In plants, epigenetic marks are reorganized during reproduction and a reinforcing mechanism takes place to ensure transposable elements silencing. In this review, we describe the latest advances in characterizing the cell-specific epigenetic changes occurring from sporogenesis to seed development, with a focus on DNA methylation. We highlight the epigenetic co-regulation between transposable elements and developmental genes at different stages of plant reproduction.

Read More in Current opinion in plant biology



JA Schröder, DMV Bonnet, PE Jullien*. Non-cell autonomous small RNA silencing in Arabidopsis female gametes. Current Biology  2022. doi:

Tirot L, Jullien PE*: Epigenetic dynamics during sexual reproduction: At the nexus of developmental control and genomic integrity. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2022, 69:102278.

Tirot L, Bonnet DMV, Jullien PE*. DNA Methyltransferase 3 (MET3) is regulated by Polycomb group complex during Arabidopsis endosperm development. PlantReprod. 2022 Jan 28. doi: 10.1007/s00497-021-00436-x.

Oliver C, Annacondia ML, Wang Z, Jullien PE, Slotkin RK, Köhler C, Martinez G. The miRNome function transitions from regulating developmental genes totransposable elements during pollen maturation. Plant Cell. 2022 Feb3;34(2):784-801. doi: 10.1093/plcell/koab280.

Jullien PE*, Schröder JA, Bonnet DMV, Pumplin N, Voinnet O. Asymmetric expression of Argonautes in reproductive tissues. Plant Physiol. 2022 Jan 20;188(1):38-43. doi: 10.1093/plphys/kiab474.


Tirot, L.; Jullien, P.E*.; Ingouff, M*. Evolution of CG Methylation Maintenance Machinery in Plants. Epigenomes 2021, 5, 19.

Bonnet DMV, Grob S, Tirot L and Jullien PE*. Methylome dynamics upon proteasome inhibition by the pseudomonas virulence factor Syringolin A. BioXriv.


Devers, Emanuel A.; Brosnan, Christopher A.; Sarazin, Alexis; Albertini, Daniele; Amsler, Andrea C.; Brioudes, Florian; Jullien, Pauline E.; Lim, Peiqi; Schott, Gregory; Voinnet, Olivier (2020). Movement and differential consumption of short interfering RNA duplexes underlie mobile RNA interference. Nature plants, 6(7), pp. 789-799. 10.1038/s41477-020-0687-2

Jullien, P.E., Grob, S., Marchais, A., Pumplin, N., Chevalier, C., Bonnet, D.M., Otto, C., Schott, G. and Voinnet, O. (2020), Functional characterization of Arabidopsis ARGONAUTE 3 in reproductive tissues. Plant J.  doi:10.1111/tpj.14868


Schröder, Jens A.; Jullien, Pauline E. (2019). The Diversity of Plant Small RNAs Silencing Mechanisms. CHIMIA, 73(5), pp. 362-367. 10.2533/chimia.2019.362

2018 and older

Tschopp, MA; Iki; T, Brosnan, CA; Jullien, PE; Pumplin, N. (2017). A complex of Arabidopsis DRB proteins can impair dsRNA processing. RNA, 23, pp. 782-797. 10.1261/rna.059519.116

Pumplin, N; Sarazin, A; Jullien, PE; Bologna, NG; Oberlin, S; Voinnet, O. (2016). DNA Methylation Influences the Expression of DICER-LIKE4 Isoforms, Which Encode Proteins of Alternative Localization and Function. The Plant Cell, 28(11), pp. 2786-2804. 10.1105/tpc.16.00554

Calarco, JP; Borges, F; Donoghue, MT; van Ex, F; Jullien, PE; Lopes, T; Gardner, R; Berger, F; Feijó, JA; Becker, JD; Martienssen, RA. (2012). Reprogramming of DNA methylation in pollen guides epigenetic inheritance via small RNA. Cell, 151(1), pp. 194-205. 10.1016/j.cell.2012.09.001

Jullien, PE; Susaki, D; Yelagandula, R; Higashiyama, T; Berger, F. (2012). DNA methylation dynamics during sexual reproduction in Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Biology, 22(19), pp. 1825-1830. 10.1016/j.cub.2012.07.061

Jullien, PE; Berger, F. (2010). DNA methylation reprogramming during plant sexual reproduction? Trends in Genetics, 26(9), pp. 394-399. 10.1016/j.tig.2010.06.001

Jullien, PE; Berger, F. (2010). Parental Genome Dosage Imbalance Deregulates Imprinting in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genetics, 6(3), e1000885. 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000885

Jullien, PE; Berger, F. (2009). Gamete-specific epigenetic mechanisms shape genomic imprinting. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 12(5), pp. 637-642. 10.1016/j.pbi.2009.07.004

Jullien, PE; Berger, F. (2008). Parental genomic imprinting in plants: significance for reproduction. Medecine sciences, 24(8-9), pp. 753-757. 10.1051/medsci/20082489753

Jullien, PE; Mosquna, A; Ingouff, M; Sakata, T; Ohad, N; Berger, F. (2008). Retinoblastoma and its binding partner MSI1 control imprinting in Arabidopsis. PLoS Biology, 6(8), e194. 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060194

Aubourg, S; Martin-Magniette, ML; Brunaud, V; Taconnat, L; Bitton, F; Balzergue, S; Jullien, PE; Ingouff, M; Thareau, V; Schiex, T; Lecharny, A; Renou, JP. (2007). Analysis of CATMA transcriptome data identifies hundreds of novel functional genes and improves gene models in the Arabidopsis genome. BMC Genomics, 8, 401. 10.1186/1471-2164-8-401

Ingouff, M; Jullien, PE; Berger, F. (2006). The female gametophyte and the endosperm control cell proliferation and differentiation of the seed coat in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 18(12), pp. 3491-3501. 10.1105/tpc.106.047266

Jullien, PE; Kinoshita, T; Ohad, N; Berger, F. (2006). Maintenance of DNA methylation during the Arabidopsis life cycle is essential for parental imprinting. The Plant Cell, 18(6), pp. 1360-1372. 10.1105/tpc.106.041178

Jullien, PE; Katz, A; Oliva, M; Ohad, N; Berger, F.  (2006) Polycomb group complexes self-regulate imprinting of the Polycomb group gene MEDEA in Arabidopsis. Current Biology, 16(5), pp. 486-492. 10.1016/j.cub.2006.01.020

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