Transcriptional control of nutrient partitioning during rice grain filling

Plant Biotechnol J. 2003 Jan;1(1):59-70. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-7652.2003.00006.x.


Cereal grains accumulate carbohydrates, storage proteins and fatty acids via different pathways during their development. Many genes that participate in nutrient partitioning during grain filling and that affect starch quality have been identified. To understand how the expression of these genes is coordinated during grain development, a genomic approach to surveying the participation and interactions of all the pathways is necessary. Using recently published rice genome information, we designed a rice GeneChip microarray that covers half the rice genome. By monitoring the expression of 21,000 genes in parallel, we identified genes involved in the grain filling process and found that the expression of genes involved in different pathways is coordinately controlled in a synchronized fashion during grain filling. Interestingly, a known promoter element in genes encoding seed storage proteins, AACA, is statistically over-represented among the 269 genes in different pathways with diverse functions that are significantly up-regulated during grain filling. By expression pattern matching, a group of transcription factors that have the potential to interact with this element was identified. We also found that most genes in the starch biosynthetic pathway show multiple distinct spatial and temporal expression patterns, suggesting that different isoforms of a given enzyme are expressed in different tissues and at different developmental stages. Our results reveal key regulatory machinery and provide an opportunity for modifying multiple pathways by manipulating key regulatory elements for improving grain quality and quantity.