Auxin production in the endosperm drives seed coat development in Arabidopsis

Elife. 2016 Nov 16;5:e20542. doi: 10.7554/eLife.20542.


In flowering plants, seed development is initiated by the fusion of the maternal egg and central cells with two paternal sperm cells, leading to the formation of embryo and endosperm, respectively. The fertilization products are surrounded by the maternally derived seed coat, whose development prior to fertilization is blocked by epigenetic regulators belonging to the Polycomb Group (PcG) protein family. Here we show that fertilization of the central cell results in the production of auxin and most likely its export to the maternal tissues, which drives seed coat development by removing PcG function. We furthermore show that mutants for the MADS-box transcription factor AGL62 have an impaired transport of auxin from the endosperm to the integuments, which results in seed abortion. We propose that AGL62 regulates auxin transport from the endosperm to the integuments, leading to the removal of the PcG block on seed coat development.

Keywords: A. thaliana; Polycomb group proteins; auxin; endosperm; plant biology; plant reproduction; seed coat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Endosperm / genetics
  • Endosperm / growth & development
  • Endosperm / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism*
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • MADS Domain Proteins / genetics*
  • MADS Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Plant Development / genetics
  • Pollination / genetics
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / genetics
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • MADS Domain Proteins
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.