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Mechanical stress mediated by both endosperm softening and embryo growth underlies endosperm elimination in Arabidopsis seeds

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3300-3305
Number of pages6
Issue number18
Early online date13 Sep 2016
StatePublished - 13 Sep 2016


Seed development in angiosperms demands the tightly coordinated development of three genetically distinct structures. The embryo is surrounded by the endosperm, which is in turn enclosed within the maternally derived seed coat. In Arabidopsis, final seed size is determined by early expansion of the coenocytic endosperm, which then cellularises and subsequently undergoes developmental programmed cell death, breaking down as the embryo grows. Endosperm breakdown requires the endospermspecific basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor ZHOUPI. However, to date, the mechanism underlying the Arabidopsis endosperm breakdown process has not been elucidated. Here, we provide evidence that ZHOUPI does not induce the developmental programmed cell death of the endosperm directly. Instead ZHOUPI indirectly triggers cell death by regulating the expression of cell wall-modifying enzymes, thus altering the physical properties of the endosperm to condition a mechanical environment permitting the compression of the cellularised endosperm by the developing embryo.

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