MYB64 and MYB119 are required for cellularization and differentiation during female gametogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana

PLoS Genet. 2013;9(9):e1003783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003783. Epub 2013 Sep 19.


In angiosperms, the egg cell forms within the multicellular, haploid female gametophyte. Female gametophyte and egg cell development occurs through a unique process in which a haploid spore initially undergoes several rounds of synchronous nuclear divisions without cytokinesis, resulting in a single cell containing multiple nuclei. The developing gametophyte then forms cell walls (cellularization) and the resulting cells differentiate to generate the egg cell and several accessory cells. The switch between free nuclear divisions and cellularization-differentiation occurs during developmental stage FG5 in Arabidopsis, and we refer to it as the FG5 transition. The molecular regulators that initiate the FG5 transition during female gametophyte development are unknown. In this study, we show using mutant analysis that two closely related MYB transcription factors, MYB64 and MYB119, act redundantly to promote this transition. MYB64 and MYB119 are expressed during the FG5 transition, and most myb64 myb119 double mutant gametophytes fail to initiate the FG5 transition, resulting in uncellularized gametophytes with supernumerary nuclei. Analysis of cell-specific markers in myb64 myb119 gametophytes that do cellularize suggests that gametophytic polarity and differentiation are also affected. We also show using multiple-mutant analysis that MYB119 expression is regulated by the histidine kinase CKI1, the primary activator of two-component signaling (TCS) during female gametophyte development. Our data establish a molecular pathway regulating the FG5 transition and implicates CKI1-dependent TCS in the promotion of cellularization, differentiation, and gamete specification during female gametogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Gametogenesis, Plant / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Ovule / genetics*
  • Ovule / growth & development
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spores / genetics
  • Spores / growth & development
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MYB119 protein, Arabidopsis
  • MYB64 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors

Grant support

This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation to GND (grant numbers IOB-052008 and IOB-0923880). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.