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Identification of a seed coat-specific promoter fragment from the Arabidopsis MUCILAGE-MODIFIED4 gene


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The Arabidopsis seed coat-specific promoter fragment described is an important tool for basic and applied research in Brassicaceae species.


During differentiation, the epidermal cells of the Arabidopsis seed coat produce and secrete large quantities of mucilage. On hydration of mature seeds, this mucilage becomes easily accessible as it is extruded to form a tightly attached halo at the seed surface. Mucilage is composed mainly of pectin, and also contains the key cell wall components cellulose, hemicellulose, and proteins, making it a valuable model for studying numerous aspects of cell wall biology. Seed coat-specific promoters are an important tool that can be used to assess the effects of expressing biosynthetic enzymes and diverse cell wall-modifying proteins on mucilage structure and function. Additionally, they can be used for production of easily accessible recombinant proteins of commercial interest. The MUCILAGE-MODIFIED4 (MUM4) gene is expressed in a wide variety of plant tissues and is strongly up-regulated in the seed coat during mucilage synthesis, implying the presence of a seed coat-specific region in its promoter. Promoter deletion analysis facilitated isolation of a 308 base pair sequence (MUM4 0.3Pro ) that directs reporter gene expression in the seed coat cells of both Arabidopsis and Camelina sativa, and is regulated by the same transcription factor cascade as endogenous MUM4. Therefore, MUM4 0.3Pro is a promoter fragment that serves as a new tool for seed coat biology research.

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We thank the staff of the University of British Columbia BioImaging Facility for invaluable help with microscopy. This research was funded by two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Grants, one to G.W.H and T.L.W. and a second to G.W.H and L.K in partnership with Linnaeus Plant Sciences Inc. and Drs. Thomas Roscoe and Martine Devic funded by the French National Research Agency under the programme Investissements d′avenir: ANR-10-LABX-0001-01 and the Agropolis Fondation under the reference Open Science SYNERGY 1202-048.

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GHD designed and conducted research, analyzed data, and wrote the article. ZJ, LS and EE designed and conducted research, and analyzed data. RM, KN and TL conducted research. LK and TLW designed research and analyzed data. GWH designed research, analyzed data, and wrote the article.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to George W. Haughn.

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Dean, G.H., Jin, Z., Shi, L. et al. Identification of a seed coat-specific promoter fragment from the Arabidopsis MUCILAGE-MODIFIED4 gene. Plant Mol Biol 95, 33–50 (2017).

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