Small proteins have long been overlooked due to their poor annotation and the experimental challenges they pose. However, in recent years, their role in various processes has started to emerge, opening new research avenues. Here, we present the isolation and characterization of two allelic mutants, twisted seed1-1 (tws1-1) and tws1-2, which exhibit an array of developmental and biochemical phenotypes in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seeds. We have identified AT5G01075 as the subtending gene encoding a small protein of 81 amino acids localized in the endoplasmic reticulum. TWS1 is strongly expressed in seeds, where it regulates both embryo development and accumulation of storage compounds. TWS1 loss-of-function seeds exhibit increased starch, sucrose, and protein accumulation at the detriment of fatty acids. TWS1 is also expressed in vegetative and reproductive tissues, where it is responsible for proper epidermal cell morphology and overall plant growth. At the cellular level, TWS1 is responsible for cuticle deposition on epidermal cells and organization of the endomembrane system. Finally, we show that TWS1 is a single-copy gene in Arabidopsis, and it is specifically conserved among angiosperms.
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