Wuschel-related homeobox 8/9 is important for proper embryo patterning in the gymnosperm Norway spruce

J Exp Bot. 2014 Dec;65(22):6543-52. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru371. Epub 2014 Sep 9.


Proper embryo development is crucial as that is when the primary body axes are established. In Arabidopsis, AtWOX8 and AtWOX9, members of the Wuschel-related homeobox (WOX) gene family, are critical for embryo development. In Norway spruce, PaWOX8/9, which is expressed in embryos, is the homologue of AtWOX8 and AtWOX9. In this work, it is shown that the transcript abundance of PaWOX8/9 is high during early and late embryogeny and that it decreases when the maturation phase starts. To address the function of PaWOX8/9 during embryo development, RNAi lines were established to down-regulate the transcript level of PaWOX8/9, using both constitutive and inducible promoters. Embryos in the PaWOX8/9 RNAi lines show an aberrant morphology caused by disturbed orientation of the cell division plane at the basal part of the embryonal mass during early and late embryogeny. In addition, the transcript level of several key cell-cycle-regulating genes, for example, PaE2FAB-like and PaCYCLIN B-like, are affected in the PaWOX8/9 RNAi lines. Taken together, our results suggest that PaWOX8/9 may perform an evolutionarily conserved function as a regulator of the establishment of the apical-basal embryo pattern.

Keywords: Apical–basal; WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX.; cell cycle; division plane; embryogenesis; polarity; spruce.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Patterning* / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Division
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Norway
  • Picea / cytology
  • Picea / embryology*
  • Picea / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seeds / cytology
  • Seeds / embryology*
  • Seeds / genetics


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger