, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 339-348
Date: 16 Nov 2012

Identification of genes preferentially expressed in wheat egg cells and zygotes

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Key message

Wheat genes differentially expressed in the egg cell before and after fertilization were identified. The data support zygotic gene activation before the first cell division in wheat.


To have an insight into fertilization-induced gene expression, cDNA libraries have been prepared from isolated wheat egg cells and one-celled zygotes. Two-hundred and twenty-six egg cell and 253 zygote-expressed EST sequences were determined. Most of the represented transcripts were detected in the wheat egg cell or zygote transcriptome at the first time. Expression analysis of fourteen of the identified genes and three controls was carried out by real-time quantitative PCR. The preferential expression of all investigated genes in the female gametophyte-derived samples (egg cells, zygotes, two-celled proembryos, and basal ovule parts with synergids) in comparison to the anthers, and the leaves were verified. Three genes with putative signaling/regulatory functions were expressed at a low level in the egg cell but exhibited increased (2-to-33-fold) relative expression in the zygote and the proembryo. Genes with high EST abundance in cDNA libraries exhibited strong expression in the egg cell and the zygote, while the ones coding for unknown or hypothetical proteins exhibited differential expression patterns with preferential transcript accumulation in egg cells and/or zygotes. The obtained data support the activation of the zygotic genome before the first cell division in wheat.