, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 801-815

MADS-box genes expressed during tomato seed and fruit development

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MADS-box genes in plants are putative transcription factors involved in regulating numerous developmental processes, such as meristem and organ identity in inflorescences and in flowers. Recent reports indicate that they are involved in other processes than flower development such as the establishment of developing embryos, seed coat and ultimately in root and fruit development. We have identified seven tomato MADS-box genes that are highly expressed during the first steps of tomato fruit development. According to comparisons of their deduced amino acid sequences, they were classified into two groups: (1) already identified tomato MADS-box genes previously defined as flower identity genes (TAG1, TDR4 and TDR6) and (2) new tomato MADS-box genes (TAGL1, TAGL2, TAGL11 and TAGL12). With the exception of TAGL12, which is expressed near uniformly in every tissue, the other genes show an induction during the tomato fruit development phase I (anthesis) and phase II, when active cell division occurs. In situ hybridization analyses show a specific expression pattern for each gene within the fruit and embryo sac tissues suggesting an important role in the establishment of tissue identity. Yeast two-hybrid analyses indicate that some of these proteins could potentially form dimers suggesting they could act together to accomplish their proposed role.