Identification and characterization of Argonaute gene family and meiosis-enriched Argonaute during sporogenesis in maize

J Integr Plant Biol. 2014 Nov;56(11):1042-52. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12205. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Argonaute (AGO) proteins play a key role in regulation of gene expression through small RNA-directed RNA cleavage and translational repression, and are essential for multiple developmental processes. In the present study, 17 AGO genes of maize (Zea mays L., ZmAGOs) were identified using a Hidden Markov Model and validated by rapid amplification of cDNA ends assay. Subsequently, quantitative PCR revealed that expressions of these genes were higher in reproductive than in vegetative tissues. AGOs presented five temporal and spatial expression patterns, which were likely modulated by DNA methylation, 5'-untranslated exons and microRNA-mediated feedback loops. Intriguingly, ZmAGO18b was highly expressed in tassels during meiosis. Furthermore, in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence showed that ZmAGO18b was enriched in the tapetum and germ cells in meiotic anthers. We hypothesized that ZmAGOs are highly expressed in reproductive tissues, and that ZmAGO18b is a tapetum and germ cell-specific member of the AGO family in maize.

Keywords: Anther; Argonaute; gene expression; immunochemistry; meiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Pollen / cytology
  • Pollen / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Time Factors
  • Zea mays / cytology*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Plant Proteins