Sequence-unrelated long noncoding RNAs converged to modulate the activity of conserved epigenetic machineries across kingdoms



RNA-DNA hybrid (R-loop)-associated long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), including the Arabidopsis lncRNA AUXIN-REGULATED PROMOTER LOOP (APOLO), are emerging as important regulators of three-dimensional chromatin conformation and gene transcriptional activity. Here, we showed that in addition to the PRC1-component LIKE-HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (LHP1), APOLO interacts with the methylcytosine-binding protein VARIANT IN METHYLATION 1 (VIM1), a conserved homolog of the mammalian DNA methylation regulator UBIQUITIN-LIKE CONTAINING PHD AND RING FINGER DOMAINS 1 (UHRF1). The APOLO-VIM1-LHP1 complex directly regulates the transcription of the auxin biosynthesis gene YUCCA2 by dynamically determining DNA methylation and H3K27me3 deposition over its promoter during the plant thermomorphogenic response. Strikingly, we demonstrated that the lncRNA UHRF1 Protein Associated Transcript (UPAT), a direct interactor of UHRF1 in humans, can be recognized by VIM1 and LHP1 in plant cells, despite the lack of sequence homology between UPAT and APOLO. In addition, we showed that increased levels of APOLO or UPAT hamper VIM1 and LHP1 binding to YUCCA2 promoter. Collectively, our results uncover a new mechanism in which a plant lncRNA coordinates Polycomb action and DNA methylation, and reveal that evolutionary unrelated lncRNAs may exert similar functions across kingdoms.