The naked endosperm genes encode duplicate INDETERMINATE domain transcription factors required for maize endosperm cell patterning and differentiation.


Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Physiol, Volume 167, Issue 2, p.443-56 (2015)


Amino Acid Sequence, Body Patterning, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Cell Nucleus, Endosperm, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Genes, Plant, Laser Capture Microdissection, Molecular Sequence Data, Plant Proteins, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Protein Transport, RNA, Messenger, Sequence Analysis, RNA, Transcription Factors, Zea mays


<p>The aleurone is the outermost layer of cereal endosperm and functions to digest storage products accumulated in starchy endosperm cells as well as to confer important dietary health benefits. Whereas normal maize (Zea mays [Zm]) has a single aleurone layer, naked endosperm (nkd) mutants produce multiple outer cell layers of partially differentiated cells that show sporadic expression of aleurone identity markers such as a viviparous1 promoter-β-glucuronidase transgene. The 15:1 F2 segregation ratio suggested that two recessive genes were involved, and map-based cloning identified two homologous genes in duplicated regions of the genome. The nkd1 and nkd2 genes encode the INDETERMINATE1 domain (IDD) containing transcription factors ZmIDDveg9 and ZmIDD9 on chromosomes 2 and 10, respectively. Independent mutant alleles of nkd1 and nkd2, as well as nkd2-RNA interference lines in which both nkd genes were knocked down, also showed the nkd mutant phenotype, confirming the gene identities. In wild-type kernels, the nkd transcripts were most abundant around 11 to 16 d after pollination. The NKD proteins have putative nuclear localization signals, and green fluorescent protein fusion proteins showed nuclear localization. The mutant phenotype and gene identities suggest that NKD controls a gene regulatory network involved in aleurone cell fate specification and cell differentiation.</p>