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Plant Physiol. 2008 Dec;148(4):1964-84. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.128108. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Transcriptome analysis of proliferating Arabidopsis endosperm reveals biological implications for the control of syncytial division, cytokinin signaling, and gene expression regulation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.


During the early stages of seed development, Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) endosperm is syncytial and proliferates rapidly through repeated rounds of mitosis without cytokinesis. This stage of endosperm development is important in determining final seed size and is a model for studying aspects of cellular and molecular biology, such as the cell cycle and genomic imprinting. However, the small size of the Arabidopsis seed makes high-throughput molecular analysis of the early endosperm technically difficult. Laser capture microdissection enabled high-resolution transcript analysis of the syncytial stage of Arabidopsis endosperm development at 4 d after pollination. Analysis of Gene Ontology representation revealed a developmental program dominated by the expression of genes associated with cell cycle, DNA processing, chromatin assembly, protein synthesis, cytoskeleton- and microtubule-related processes, and cell/organelle biogenesis and organization. Analysis of core cell cycle genes implicates particular gene family members as playing important roles in controlling syncytial cell division. Hormone marker analysis indicates predominance for cytokinin signaling during early endosperm development. Comparisons with publicly available microarray data revealed that approximately 800 putative early seed-specific genes were preferentially expressed in the endosperm. Early seed expression was confirmed for 71 genes using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, with 27 transcription factors being confirmed as early seed specific. Promoter-reporter lines confirmed endosperm-preferred expression at 4 d after pollination for five transcription factors, which validates the approach and suggests important roles for these genes during early endosperm development. In summary, the data generated provide a useful resource providing novel insight into early seed development and identify new target genes for further characterization.

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