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Plant J. 2014 Feb;77(4):547-57. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12405. Epub 2014 Jan 7.

SMALL GRAIN 1, which encodes a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4, influences grain size in rice.

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State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100039, China.


Although grain size is one of the most important components of grain yield, little information is known about the mechanisms that determine final grain size in crops. Here we characterize rice small grain1 (smg1) mutants, which exhibit small and light grains, dense and erect panicles and comparatively slightly shorter plants. The short grain and panicle phenotypes of smg1 mutants are caused by a defect in cell proliferation. The smg1 mutations were identified, using a map-based cloning approach, in mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4 (OsMKK4). Relatively higher expression of OsMKK4/SMG1 was detected in younger organs than in older ones, consistent with its role in cell proliferation. Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-OsMKK4/SMG1 fusion proteins appear to be distributed ubiquitously in plant cells. Further results revealed that OsMKK4 influenced brassinosteroid (BR) responses and the expression of BR-related genes. Thus, our findings have identified OsMKK4 as a factor for grain size, and suggest a possible link between the MAPK pathways and BRs in grain growth.


SMG1/OsMKK4; cell proliferation; grain size; panicle size; rice

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