Derkacheva M, Hennig L
J. Exp. Bot. 65 (10) 2769-2784 [2014-06-00; online 2013-12-13]
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins evolved early in evolution, probably in the common ancestor of animals and plants. In some unicellular organisms, such as Chlamydomonas and Tetrahymena, PcG proteins silence genes in heterochromatin, suggesting an ancestral function in genome defence. In angiosperms, the PcG system controls many developmental transitions. A PcG function in the vernalization response evolved especially in Brassicaceaea. Thus, the role of PcG proteins has changed during evolution to match novel needs. Recent studies identified many proteins associated with plant PcG protein complexes. Possible functions of these interactions are discussed here. We highlight recent findings about recruitment of PcG proteins in plants in comparison with animal system. Through the new data, a picture emerges in which PcG protein complexes do not function in sequential linear pathways but as dynamically interacting networks allowing stabilizing feedback loops. We discuss how the interplay between different PcG protein complexes can enable establishment, maintenance, and epigenetic inheritance of H3K27me3.