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Genes Dev. 2002 Jan 1;16(1):138-49.

A. thaliana TRANSPARENT TESTA 1 is involved in seed coat development and defines the WIP subfamily of plant zinc finger proteins.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung, Abteilung Biochemie, D-50829 Köln, Germany.


Seeds of the Arabidopsis thaliana transparent testa 1 mutant (tt1) appear yellow, due to the lack of condensed tannin pigments in the seed coat. The TT1 gene was isolated by reverse genetics using an En-1 transposon mutagenized A. thaliana population. TT1 gene expression was detected in developing ovules and young seeds only, and the gene was shown to encode a nuclear protein. Mutant seeds displayed altered morphology of the seed endothelium in which brown tannin pigments accumulate in wild-type plants, indicating that TT1 is involved in the differentiation of this cell layer. When overexpressed in transgenic A. thaliana plants, TT1 caused aberrant development and organ morphology. The protein contains a novel combination of two TFIIIA-type zinc finger motifs. Closely related motifs were detected in a number of putative proteins deduced from plant genomic and EST sequences. The new protein domain containing this type of zinc finger motifs was designated WIP, according to three strictly conserved amino acid residues. Our data indicate the existence of a small gene family in A. thaliana which is defined by the occurrence of the WIP domain. WIP genes may play important roles in regulating developmental processes, including the control of endothelium differentiation.

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