MADS box transcription factors (TFs) are subdivided into type I and II based on phylogenetic analysis. The type II TFs regulate floral organ identity and flowering time, but type I TFs are relatively less characterized. Here, we report the functional characterization of two type I MADS box TFs in rice (Oryza sativa), MADS78 and MADS79. Transcript abundance of both these genes in developing seed peaked at 48 h after fertilization and was suppressed by 96 h after fertilization, corresponding to syncytial and cellularized stages of endosperm development, respectively. Seeds overexpressing MADS78 and MADS79 exhibited delayed endosperm cellularization, while CRISPR-Cas9-mediated single knockout mutants showed precocious endosperm cellularization. MADS78 and MADS79 were indispensable for seed development, as a double knockout mutant failed to make viable seeds. Both MADS78 and 79 interacted with MADS89, another type I MADS box, which enhances nuclear localization. The expression analysis of Fie1, a rice FERTILIZATION-INDEPENDENT SEED-POLYCOMB REPRESSOR COMPLEX2 component, in MADS78 and 79 mutants and vice versa established an antithetical relation, suggesting that Fie1 could be involved in negative regulation of MADS78 and MADS79. Misregulation of MADS78 and MADS79 perturbed auxin homeostasis and carbon metabolism, as evident by misregulation of genes involved in auxin transport and signaling as well as starch biosynthesis genes causing structural abnormalities in starch granules at maturity. Collectively, we show that MADS78 and MADS79 are essential regulators of early seed developmental transition and impact both seed size and quality in rice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science