HUA1 and HUA2 are two members of the floral homeotic AGAMOUS pathway.
The identities of the four floral organ types in an Arabidopsis flower are specified by the combinatorial activities of the floral homeotic A, B, and C function genes; AGAMOUS is the only known C function gene. We have identified two genes that interact with AG in the specification of floral structure, HUA1 and HUA2, from a screen for enhancers of a weak ag allele, ag-4. HUA1 and HUA2 are involved in all aspects of AG function. HUA2 encodes a novel protein that contains nuclear localization signals and signature motifs that suggest HUA2, like AG, may be a transcription factor. Molecular analyses suggest that HUA2 (and possibly HUA1) acts to facilitate AG action at the same hierarchical level as AG. (+info
CRABS CLAW and SPATULA, two Arabidopsis genes that control carpel development in parallel with AGAMOUS.
To help understand the process of carpel morphogenesis, the roles of three carpel development genes have been partitioned genetically. Mutants of CRABS CLAW cause the gynoecium to develop into a wider but shorter structure, and the two carpels are unfused at the apex. Mutants of a second gene, SPATULA, show reduced growth of the style, stigma, and septum, and the transmitting tract is absent. Double mutants of crabs claw and spatula with homeotic mutants that develop ectopic carpels demonstrate that CRABS CLAW and SPATULA are necessary for, and inseparable from, carpel development, and that their action is negatively regulated by A and B organ identity genes. The third carpel gene studied, AGAMOUS, encodes C function that has been proposed to fully specify carpel identity. When AGAMOUS function is removed together with the A class gene APETALA2, however, the organs retain many carpelloid properties, suggesting that other genes are also involved. We show here that further mutant disruption of both CRABS CLAW and SPATULA function removes remaining carpelloid properties, revealing that the three genes together are necessary to generate the mature gynoecium. In particular, AGAMOUS is required to specify the identity of the carpel wall and to promote the stylar outgrowth at the apex, CRABS CLAW suppresses radial growth of the developing gynoecium but promotes its longitudinal growth, and SPATULA supports development of the carpel margins and tissues derived from them. The three genes mostly act independently, although there is genetic evidence that CRABS CLAW enhances AGAMOUS and SPATULA function. (+info
The Arabidopsis FILAMENTOUS FLOWER gene is required for flower formation.
A screen for mutations affecting flower formation was carried out and several filamentous flower (fil) alleles were identified. In fil mutants, floral primordia occasionally give rise to pedicels lacking flowers at their ends. This defect is dramatically enhanced in fil rev double mutants, in which every floral primordium produces a flowerless pedicel. These data suggest that the FIL and REV genes are required for an early step of flower formation, possibly for the establishment of a flower-forming domain within the floral primordium. The FIL gene is also required for establishment of floral meristem identity and for flower development. During flower development, the FIL gene is required for floral organ formation in terms of the correct numbers and positions; correct spatial activity of the AGAMOUS, APETALA3, PISTILLATA and SUPERMAN genes; and floral organ development. (+info
Activation of a floral homeotic gene in Arabidopsis.
The patterned expression of floral homeotic genes in Arabidopsis depends on the earlier action of meristem-identity genes such as LEAFY, which encodes a transcription factor that determines whether a meristem will generate flowers instead of leaves and shoots. The LEAFY protein, which is expressed throughout the flower, participates in the activation of homeotic genes, which are expressed in specific regions of the flower. Analysis of a LEAFY-responsive enhancer in the homeotic gene AGAMOUS indicates that direct interaction of LEAFY with this enhancer is required for its activity in plants. Thus, LEAFY is a direct upstream regulator of floral homeotic genes. (+info
Non-AUG initiation of AGAMOUS mRNA translation in Arabidopsis thaliana.
The MADS box organ identity gene AGAMOUS (AG) controls several steps during Arabidopsis thaliana flower development. AG cDNA contains an open reading frame that lacks an ATG triplet to function as the translation initiation codon, and the actual amino terminus of the AG protein remains uncharacterized. We have considered the possibility that AG translation can be initiated at a non-AUG codon. Two possible non-AUG initiation codons, CUG and ACG, are present in the 5' region of AG mRNA preceding the highly conserved MADS box sequence. We prepared a series of AG genomic constructs in which these codons are mutated and assayed their activity in phenotypic rescue experiments by introducing them as transgenes into ag mutant plants. Alteration of the CTG codon to render it unsuitable for acting as a translation initiation site does not affect complementation of the ag-3 mutation in transgenic plants. However, a similar mutation of the downstream ACG codon prevents the rescue of the ag-3 mutant phenotype. Conversely, if an ATG is introduced immediately 5' to the disrupted ACG codon, the resulting construct fully complements the ag-3 mutation. The AG protein synthesized in vitro by initiating translation at the ACG position is active in DNA binding and is of the same size as the AG protein detected from floral tissues, whereas AG polypeptides with additional amino-terminal residues do not appear to bind DNA. These results indicate that translation of AG is initiated exclusively at an ACG codon and prove that non-AUG triplets may be efficiently used as the sole translation initiation site in some plant cellular mRNAs. (+info
Redundant enhancers mediate transcriptional repression of AGAMOUS by APETALA2.
The floral homeotic gene AGAMOUS specifies stamen and carpel fate in the central whorls of Arabidopsis flowers. Transcription of AGAMOUS RNA is restricted to the center of developing flowers by several, partially redundant negative regulators, one of which is the homeotic gene APETALA2. We have identified regulatory elements that mediate transcriptional repression of AGAMOUS by APETALA2 and found that several redundant elements respond independently to loss of APETALA2 activity. Thus, redundancy at the level of cis-regulatory sequences is independent of redundancy at the level of trans-regulators. We have also found that only the early, but not the late, effects of APETALA2 on AGAMOUS require the meristem-identity protein LEAFY, a positive regulator of AGAMOUS. (+info
Ectopic hypermethylation of flower-specific genes in Arabidopsis.
BACKGROUND: Arabidopsis mutations causing genome-wide hypomethylation are viable but display a number of specific developmental abnormalities, including some that resemble known floral homeotic mutations. We previously showed that one of the developmental abnormalities present in an antisense-METHYLTRANSFERASEI (METI) transgenic line resulted from ectopic hypermethylation of the SUPERMAN gene. RESULTS: Here, we investigate the extent to which hypermethylation of SUPERMAN occurs in several hypomethylation mutants, and describe methylation effects at a second gene, AGAMOUS. SUPERMAN gene hypermethylation occurred at a high frequency in several mutants that cause overall decreases in genomic DNA methylation. The hypermethylation pattern was largely similar in the different mutant backgrounds. Genetic analysis suggests that hypermethylation most likely arose either during meiosis or somatically in small sectors of the plant. A second floral development gene, AGAMOUS, also became hypermethylated and silenced in an Arabidopsis antisense-METI line. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that ectopic hypermethylation of specific genes in mutant backgrounds that show overall decreases in methylation may be a widespread phenomenon that could explain many of the developmental defects seen in Arabidopsis methylation mutants. This resembles a phenomenon seen in cancer cells, which can simultaneously show genome-wide hypomethylation and hypermethylation of specific genes. Comparison of the methylated sequences in SUPERMAN and AGAMOUS suggests that hypermethylation could involve DNA secondary structures formed by pyrimidine-rich sequences. (+info
Specific and heritable genetic interference by double-stranded RNA in Arabidopsis thaliana.
We investigated the potential of double-stranded RNA interference (RNAi) with gene activity in Arabidopsis thaliana. To construct transformation vectors that produce RNAs capable of duplex formation, gene-specific sequences in the sense and antisense orientations were linked and placed under the control of a strong viral promoter. When introduced into the genome of A. thaliana by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, double-stranded RNA-expressing constructs corresponding to four genes, AGAMOUS (AG), CLAVATA3, APETALA1, and PERIANTHIA, caused specific and heritable genetic interference. The severity of phenotypes varied between transgenic lines. In situ hybridization revealed a correlation between a declining AG mRNA accumulation and increasingly severe phenotypes in AG (RNAi) mutants, suggesting that endogenous mRNA is the target of double-stranded RNA-mediated genetic interference. The ability to generate stably heritable RNAi and the resultant specific phenotypes allows us to selectively reduce gene function in A. thaliana. (+info