ABSTRACT: The seed maturation programme occurs only during the late phase of embryo development, and repression of the maturation genes is pivotal for seedling development. However, mechanisms that repress the expression of this programme in vegetative tissues are not well understood. A genetic screen was performed for mutants that express maturation genes in leaves. Here, it is shown that mutations affecting SDG8 (SET DOMAIN GROUP 8), a putative histone methyltransferase, cause ectopic expression of a subset of maturation genes in leaves. Further, to investigate the relationship between SDG8 and the Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins, which are known to repress many developmentally important genes including seed maturation genes, double mutants were made and formation of somatic embryos was observed on mutant seedlings with mutations in both SDG8 and EMF2 (EMBRYONIC FLOWER 2). Analysis of histone methylation status at the chromatin sites of a number of maturation loci revealed a synergistic effect of emf2 and sdg8 on the deposition of the active histone mark which is the trimethylation of Lys4 on histone 3 (H3K4me3). This is consistent with high expression of these genes and formation of somatic embryos in the emf2 sdg8 double mutants. Interestingly, a double mutant of sdg8 and vrn2 (vernalization2), a paralogue of EMF2, grew and developed normally to maturity. These observations demonstrate a functional cooperative interplay between SDG8 and an EMF2-containing PcG complex in maintaining vegetative cell identity by repressing seed genes to promote seedling development. The work also indicates the functional specificities of PcG complexes in Arabidopsis.
Journal of Experimental Botany 12/2011; 63(3):1391-404. · 5.36 Impact Factor