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Plant Cell. 2004 Dec;16(12):3197-215. Epub 2004 Nov 11.

Characterization of antirrhinum petal development and identification of target genes of the class B MADS box gene DEFICIENS.

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  • 1Department for Molecular Plant Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, 50829 Cologne, Germany.


The class B MADS box transcription factors DEFICIENS (DEF) and GLOBOSA (GLO) of Antirrhinum majus together control the organogenesis of petals and stamens. Toward an understanding of how the downstream molecular mechanisms controlled by DEF contribute to petal organogenesis, we conducted expression profiling experiments using macroarrays comprising >11,600 annotated Antirrhinum unigenes. First, four late petal developmental stages were compared with sepals. More than 500 ESTs were identified that comprise a large number of stage-specifically regulated genes and reveal a highly dynamic transcriptional regulation. For identification of DEF target genes that might be directly controlled by DEF, we took advantage of the temperature-sensitive def-101 mutant. To enhance the sensitivity of the profiling experiments, one petal developmental stage was selected, characterized by increased transcriptome changes that reflect the onset of cell elongation processes replacing cell division processes. Upon reduction of the DEF function, 49 upregulated and 52 downregulated petal target genes were recovered. Eight target genes were further characterized in detail by RT-PCR and in situ studies. Expression of genes responding rapidly toward an altered DEF activity is confined to different petal tissues, demonstrating the complexity of the DEF function regulating diverse basic processes throughout petal morphogenesis.

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