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EMBO J. 1994 Mar 15;13(6):1443-9.

Ectopic expression of a single homeotic gene, the Petunia gene green petal, is sufficient to convert sepals to petaloid organs.

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Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021.


Genetic studies in Arabidopsis and Antirrhinum showed that petal determination requires the concomitant expression of two homeotic functions, A and B, whereas the A function alone determines sepal identity. The B function is represented by at least two genes. The Petunia homeotic gene green petal (gp) is essential for petal determination as demonstrated by a Petunia gp mutant that has sepals instead of petals. We have used ectopic expression of the gp gene as a tool to study flower development in Petunia. CaMV 35S-gp expression leads to homeotic conversion of sepals into petaloid organs when expressed early in development. This demonstrates that a single homeotic gene is sufficient to induce homeotic conversion of sepals to petals, suggesting that other petal determining genes are regulated in part by ectopically expressed gp. Indeed, two other MADS-box-containing genes, pmads 2 and fbp 1, which show homology to the Antirrhinum B function gene globosa, are activated in the converted petal tissue. Furthermore, our data provide evidence for autoregulation of gp expression in the petaloid tissue and uncover the role of gp in fusion of petal tissues.

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