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LEC1 sequentially regulates the transcription of genes involved in diverse developmental processes during seed development


LEAFY COTYLEDON1 (LEC1), an atypical subunit of the nuclear transcription factor Y (NF-Y) CCAAT-binding transcription factor, is a central regulator that controls many aspects of seed development including the maturation phase during which seeds accumulate storage macromolecules and embryos acquire the ability to withstand desiccation. To define the gene networks and developmental processes controlled by LEC1, genes regulated directly by and downstream of LEC1 were identified. We compared the mRNA profiles of wild-type and lec1-null mutant seeds at several stages of development to define genes that are down-regulated or up-regulated by the lec1 mutation. We used ChIP and differential gene-expression analyses in Arabidopsis seedlings overexpressing LEC1 and in developing Arabidopsis and soybean seeds to identify globally the target genes that are transcriptionally regulated by LEC1 in planta Collectively, our results show that LEC1 controls distinct gene sets at different developmental stages, including those that mediate the temporal transition between photosynthesis and chloroplast biogenesis early in seed development and seed maturation late in development. Analyses of enriched DNA sequence motifs that may act as cis-regulatory elements in the promoters of LEC1 target genes suggest that LEC1 may interact with other transcription factors to regulate distinct gene sets at different stages of seed development. Moreover, our results demonstrate strong conservation in the developmental processes and gene networks regulated by LEC1 in two dicotyledonous plants that diverged ∼92 Mya.

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