Loss of function of MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA 1 produces nonviable parthenogenetic embryos in Arabidopsis

Curr Biol. 2005 Apr 26;15(8):750-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.02.066.


In sexually reproducing species, fertilization brings together in the zygote the genomes of the female and male gametes. In several animal species, female gametes are able to initiate embryogenesis in the absence of fertilization, a process referred to as parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis has been engineered in mice by tampering with expression of loci under epigenetic controls [1]. In plants, embryo development in the absence of fertilization has been reported in cases in which meiosis is bypassed leading to apomictic development, and parthenogenetic development from a reduced egg cell has been only reported in rare accidental cases [2]. We report that single mutations in the gene MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA 1 (MSI1) are able to initiate parthenogenetic development of the embryo in Arabidopsis thaliana from eggs cells produced by meiosis. The WD40 repeat protein MSI1 is part of the evolutionarily conserved Polycomb group (PcG) chromatin-remodeling complexes [3] and is homologous to the Retinoblastoma binding proteins P55 in Drosophila and RbAp48 in mammals [4]. Nonviable haploid parthenogenetic msi1 embryos express molecular markers and polarity similar to diploid wild-type (wt) embryos produced by fertilization, indicating a maternal contribution to early patterning of the Arabidopsis embryo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Centromere / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Parthenogenesis / genetics*
  • Seeds / embryology
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • MSI4 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins