Plants enter their reproductive phase when the environmental conditions are favourable for the successful production of progeny. The transition from vegetative to reproductive phase is influenced by several environmental factors including ambient temperature. In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE (SVP) is critical for this pathway; svp mutants cannot modify their flowering time in response to ambient temperature. SVP encodes a MADS-box transcription factor that directly represses genes that promote flowering. SVP binds DNA in complexes with other MADS-box transcription factors, including FLOWERING LOCUS M (FLM), which acts with SVP to repress the floral transition at low temperatures. Small temperature changes post-transcriptionally regulate FLM through temperature-dependent alternative splicing (TD-AS). As ambient temperature increases, the predominant FLM splice isoform shifts to encode a protein incapable of exerting a repressive effect on flowering. Here we characterize a closely related MADS-box transcription factor, MADS AFFECTING FLOWERING2 (MAF2), which has independently evolved TD-AS. At low temperatures the most abundant MAF2 splice variant encodes a protein that interacts with SVP to repress flowering. At increased temperature the relative abundance of splice isoforms shifts in favour of an intron-retaining variant that introduces a premature termination codon. We show that this isoform encodes a protein that cannot interact with SVP or repress flowering. At lower temperatures MAF2 and SVP repress flowering in parallel with FLM and SVP, providing an additional input to sense ambient temperature for the control of flowering.
Airoldi, C. A., McKay, M., & Davies, B. (2015). MAF2 is regulated by temperature-dependent splicing and represses flowering at low temperatures in parallel with FLM. PLoS ONE, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126516