Isolation of the three grape sub-lineages of B-class MADS-box TM6, PISTILLATA and APETALA3 genes which are differentially expressed during flower and fruit development

María Josefina Poupin, Fernán Federici, Consuelo Medina, José Tomás Matus, Tania Timmermann, Patricio Arce-Johnson
Gene 2007 December 1, 404 (1): 10-24
The B class of MADS-box floral homeotic genes specifies petal and stamen identity in angiosperms. While this group is one of the most studied in herbaceous plant species, it has remained largely uncharacterized in woody species such as grapevine. Although the B class PI/GLO and AP3/DEF clades have been extensively characterized in model species, the role of the TM6 subgroup within the AP3 clade is not completely understood, since it is absent in Arabidopsis thaliana. In this study, the coding regions of VvTM6 and VvAP3 and the genomic sequence of VvPI, were cloned. VvPI and AtPI were confirmed to be functional homologues by means of complementation of the pi Arabidopsis mutant. Expression analysis revealed that VvPI and VvAP3 transcripts are restricted almost exclusively to inflorescences, although VvPI was detected at low levels in leaves and roots. VvTM6 expresses throughout the plant, with higher levels in flowers and berries. A detailed chronological study of grape flower progression by light microscopy and temporal expression analysis throughout early and late developmental stages, revealed that VvPI expression increases during pollen maturation and decreases between the events of pollination and fertilization, before the cap fall. On the other hand, VvTM6 is expressed in the last stage of anther development. Specific expression of VvAP3 and VvPI was detected in petals and stamens within the flower, while VvTM6 was also expressed in carpels. Moreover, this work provides the first evidence for expression of a TM6-like gene throughout fruit growth and ripening. Even if these genes belong to the same genetic class they could act in different periods and/or tissues during reproductive organ development.

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