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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 17;8(7):e69261. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069261. Print 2013.

Extensive modulation of the transcription factor transcriptome during somatic embryogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Genetics, University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland.


Molecular mechanisms controlling plant totipotency are largely unknown and studies on somatic embryogenesis (SE), the process through which already differentiated cells reverse their developmental program and become embryogenic, provide a unique means for deciphering molecular mechanisms controlling developmental plasticity of somatic cells. Among various factors essential for embryogenic transition of somatic cells transcription factors (TFs), crucial regulators of genetic programs, are believed to play a central role. Herein, we used quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to identify TF genes affected during SE induced by in vitro culture in Arabidopsis thaliana. Expression profiles of 1,880 TFs were evaluated in the highly embryogenic Col-0 accession and the non-embryogenic tanmei/emb2757 mutant. Our study revealed 729 TFs whose expression changes during the 10-days incubation period of SE; 141 TFs displayed distinct differences in expression patterns in embryogenic versus non-embryogenic cultures. The embryo-induction stage of SE occurring during the first 5 days of culture was associated with a robust and dramatic change of the TF transcriptome characterized by the drastic up-regulation of the expression of a great majority (over 80%) of the TFs active during embryogenic culture. In contrast to SE induction, the advanced stage of embryo formation showed attenuation and stabilization of transcript levels of many TFs. In total, 519 of the SE-modulated TFs were functionally annotated and transcripts related with plant development, phytohormones and stress responses were found to be most abundant. The involvement of selected TFs in SE was verified using T-DNA insertion lines and a significantly reduced embryogenic response was found for the majority of them. This study provides comprehensive data focused on the expression of TF genes during SE and suggests directions for further research on functional genomics of SE.

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