The Maize Viviparous8 locus, encoding a putative ALTERED MERISTEM PROGRAM1-like peptidase, regulates abscisic acid accumulation and coordinates embryo and endosperm development

Plant Physiol. 2008 Mar;146(3):1193-206. doi: 10.1104/pp.107.114108. Epub 2008 Jan 18.


We describe a mutant of Zea mays isolated from a W22 inbred transposon population, widow's peak mutant1 (wpk1), with an altered pattern of anthocyanin synthesis and aleurone cell differentiation in endosperm. In addition, a failure of the developing mutant embryo to form leaf initials is associated with decreased expression of a subset of meristem regulatory genes that includes Abphyl1 and Td1. We show that the viviparous8 (vp8) mutant has a similar pleiotropic phenotype in the W22 inbred background in contrast to the viviparous embryo phenotype exhibited in the standard genetic background, and we confirmed that wpk1 is allelic to vp8. Further genetic analysis revealed that the standard vp8 stock contains an unlinked, partially dominant suppressor of the vp8 mutation that is not present in W22. Consistent with the early-onset viviparous phenotype of vp8, expression of several embryonic regulators, including LEC1/B3 domain transcription factors, was reduced in the mutant embryo. Moreover, reduced abscisic acid (ABA) content of vp8/wpk1 embryos was correlated with altered regulation of ABA biosynthesis, as well as ABA catabolic pathways. The ABA biosynthetic gene Vp14 was down-regulated in the nonsuppressed background, whereas the ZmABA8'oxA1a ABA 8'-hydroxylase gene was strongly up-regulated in both genetic backgrounds. Molecular analysis revealed that Vp8 encodes a putative peptidase closely related to Arabidopsis thaliana ALTERED MERISTEM PROGRAM1. Because the Vp8 regulates meristem development as well as seed maturation processes, including ABA accumulation, we propose that VP8 is required for synthesis of an unidentified signal that integrates meristem and embryo formation in seeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Gene Expression
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Peptide Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Zea mays / embryology
  • Zea mays / physiology*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Peptide Hydrolases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EU401893