Physical clustering of FLC alleles during Polycomb-mediated epigenetic silencing in vernalization.

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Vernalization, the promotion of flowering by cold, involves Polycomb-mediated epigenetic silencing of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Cold progressively promotes cell-autonomous switching to a silenced state. Here, we use live-cell imaging of FLC-lacO to monitor changes in nuclear organization during vernalization. FLC-lacO alleles physically cluster during the cold and generally remain so after plants are returned to warm. Clustering is dependent on the Polycomb trans-factors necessary for establishment of the FLC silenced state, but not on LIKE-HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN1, which functions to maintain silencing. These data support the view that physical clustering may be a common feature of Polycomb-mediated epigenetic switching mechanisms.