Several genes encoding transcription factors have been shown to be essential for male fertility in plants, suggesting that transcriptional regulation is a major mechanism controlling anther development in Arabidopsis. DYSFUNCTIONAL TAPETUM 1 (DYT1), a putative bHLH transcription factor, plays a critical role in regulating tapetum function and pollen development. Here, we compare the transcriptomes of young anthers of wild-type and the dyt1 mutant, demonstrating that DYT1 is upstream of at least 22 genes encoding transcription factors and regulates the expression of a large number of genes, including genes involved in specific metabolic pathways. We also show that DYT1 can bind to DNA in a sequence-specific manner in vitro, and induction of DYT1 activity in vivo activated the expression of the downstream transcription factor genes MYB35 and MS1. We generated DYT1-SRDX transgenic plants whose fertility was dramatically reduced, implying that DYT1 probably acts as a transcriptional activator. Furthermore, we used yeast two-hybrid assays to show that DYT1 forms homodimers and heterodimers with other bHLH transcription factors. Our results demonstrate the important role of DYT1 in regulating anther transcriptome and function, and supporting normal pollen development.
© 2012 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.