INCOMPOSITA: a MADS-box gene controlling prophyll development and floral meristem identity in Antirrhinum

Simona Masiero, Ming-Ai Li, Isa Will, Ulrike Hartmann, Heinz Saedler, Peter Huijser, Zsuzsanna Schwarz-Sommer, Hans Sommer
Development 2004, 131 (23): 5981-90
INCOMPOSITA (INCO) is a MADS-box transcription factor and member of the functionally diverse StMADS11 clade of the MADS-box family. The most conspicuous feature of inco mutant flowers are prophylls initiated prior to first whorl sepals at lateral positions of the flower primordium. The developing prophylls physically interfere with subsequent floral organ development that results in aberrant floral architecture. INCO, which is controlled by SQUAMOSA, prevents prophyll formation in the wild type, a role that is novel among MADS-box proteins, and we discuss evolutionary implications of this function. Overexpression of INCO or SVP, a structurally related Arabidopsis MADS-box gene involved in the negative control of Arabidopsis flowering time, conditions delayed flowering in transgenic plants, suggesting that SVP and INCO have functions in common. Enhanced flowering of squamosa mutants in the inco mutant background corroborates this potential role of INCO as a floral repressor in Antirrhinum. One further, hitherto hidden, role of INCO is the positive control of Antirrhinum floral meristem identity. This is revealed by genetic interactions between inco and mutants of FLORICAULA, a gene that controls the inflorescence to floral transition, together with SQUAMOSA. The complex regulatory and combinatorial relations between INCO, FLORICAULA and SQUAMOSA are summarised in a model that integrates observations from molecular studies as well as analyses of expression patterns and genetic interactions.

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