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Curr Biol. 2001 Feb 20;11(4):277-81.

Polycomb group genes control pattern formation in plant seed.

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Unite Mixte de Recherche 5667, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université Lyon I, 69364, Lyon, France.


Transcriptional activators of the Trithorax group (TRX-G) and repressors of the Polycomb group (Pc-G) are involved in multiple aspects of embryogenesis in Drosophila and the mouse [1, 2] and appear to have a conserved role in the zygotic control of the development of the anterior-posterior axis [3, 4, 5]. In the model plant Arabidopsis, three Pc-G genes have been isolated and characterized to date. CURLY LEAF (CLF) represses the expression of a floral homeotic gene in vegetative tissues but does not appear to have a role in plant embryogenesis [6]. Two other Pc-G genes, FIS1/MEDEA [7, 8, 9], and FIS3/FIE [8, 10] have been characterized in studies of mutants that produce seeds in the absence of fertilization. Seeds resulting from autonomous development in fis mutants do not contain an embryo but only endosperm, the second product of double fertilization in flowering plants [11, 12]. Thus, FIS genes are considered to be repressors of endosperm development before fertilization. We report that when fis ovules are fertilized, the endosperm patterning along the major polar axis is perturbed. Posterior structures develop in more anterior domains of the endosperm. This correlates with the ectopic expression of a posterior molecular marker. FIS genes appear to be potent regulators of the establishment of the anterior-posterior polar axis in the endosperm.

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