MADS-box transcription factors (TFs) are ubiquitous in eukaryotic organisms and play major roles during plant development. Nevertheless, their function in seed development remains largely unknown. We have shown that the imprinted Arabidopsis thaliana MADS-box TF PHERES1 is a master regulator of paternally expressed imprinted genes, as well as of non-imprinted key regulators of endosperm development. Strikingly, we found that DNA-binding motifs bound by PHERES1 have been distributed by RC/Helitron transposable elements, providing an example of molecular domestication of these elements. Our work suggests that the distribution of PHERES1 binding sites throughout the genome has facilitated the recruitment crucial endosperm regulators into a single transcriptional network. We are currently testing this model. We furthermore aim at identifying PHERES1 interacting proteins to be able to reconstitute a functional PHERES1 complex.
Batista RA, Moreno-Romero J, van Boven J, Qiu Y, Santos-González J, Figueiredo DD, Köhler C (2019) The MADS-box transcription factor PHERES1 controls imprinting in the endosperm by binding to domesticated transposons. (bioRxiv)
Köhler C, Hennig L, Spillane C, Pien S, Gruissem W, Grossniklaus U. (2003) The Polycomb group protein MEDEA regulates seed development by controlling expression of the MADS-box gene PHERES1. Genes & Dev. 17:1540-53. (PubMed)