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Elife. 2019 Dec 2;8. pii: e50541. doi: 10.7554/eLife.50541.

The MADS-box transcription factor PHERES1 controls imprinting in the endosperm by binding to domesticated transposons.

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Department of Plant Biology, Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
Linnean Centre for Plant Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


MADS-box transcription factors (TFs) are ubiquitous in eukaryotic organisms and play major roles during plant development. Nevertheless, their function in seed development remains largely unknown. Here, we show that the imprinted Arabidopsis thaliana MADS-box TF PHERES1 (PHE1) is a master regulator of paternally expressed imprinted genes, as well as of non-imprinted key regulators of endosperm development. PHE1 binding sites show distinct epigenetic modifications on maternal and paternal alleles, correlating with parental-specific transcriptional activity. Importantly, we show that the CArG-box-like DNA-binding motifs that are bound by PHE1 have been distributed by RC/Helitron transposable elements. Our data provide an example of the molecular domestication of these elements which, by distributing PHE1 binding sites throughout the genome, have facilitated the recruitment of crucial endosperm regulators into a single transcriptional network.


A. thaliana; MADS-box transcription factors; PHERES1; endosperm; genetics; genomics; imprinting; plant biology; seed; transposable elements

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