Vacuolar H+-translocating inorganic pyrophosphatase (Vpp1) marks partial aleurone cell fate in cereal endosperm development

Plant Mol Biol. 2004 Oct;56(3):325-37. doi: 10.1007/s11103-004-3414-x.


Cereal endosperm is a model system for cell fate determination in plants. In wild-type plants the outermost endosperm cells adopt aleurone cell fate, while all underlying cells display starchy endosperm cell fate. Mutant analysis showed that cell fate is determined by position rather than lineage. To further characterise the precise cell fate of the outermost cells, we performed a differential screen and isolated the novel marker gene Vpp1 . It encodes a vacuolar H+-translocating inorganic pyrophosphatase (V-PPase) and is mainly expressed in kernels, leaves and tassels. In kernels, its expression is restricted to the aleurone layer with the maximum of expression shifting from the adaxial to the abaxial side during early stages. Together with three other marker genes Vpp1 was then used to analyse the cell fate of the outermost cells in Dap3 , Dap7 , cr4 and dek1 mutants, all of which have aberrant aleurone layers. In the Dap3 and Dap7 mutants the Vpp1 and Ltp2 markers but not the A1 and Zein markers were expressed in patches without aleurone indicating that the outermost cells had some but not all features of aleurone cells and did not simply adopt starchy endosperm cell fate. A similar result was obtained in the cr4 mutant, although Ltp2 expression was less generalised. In other Dap7 patches characterised by multiple aleurone-like cell layers the expression of Vpp1 and Ltp2 confirmed the aleurone cell fate of the cells in the additional cell layers. The analysis of dek1 mutants confirmed the starchy endosperm cell fate of the majority but not all outermost cells. Based on these data we propose a model suggesting a stepwise commitment to aleurone cell fate. Sequential steps are marked by the expression of Vpp1 , the expression of Ltp2 , the acquisition of a regular shape and thick walls and finally pigmentation coupled with A1 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seeds / cytology
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Zea mays / cytology
  • Zea mays / enzymology
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA, Plant
  • Inorganic Pyrophosphatase