Control of ovule development in Vitis vinifera by VvMADS28 and interacting genes

Hortic Res. 2023 Apr 13;10(6):uhad070. doi: 10.1093/hr/uhad070. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Seedless grapes are increasingly popular throughout the world, and the development of seedless varieties is a major breeding goal. In this study, we demonstrate an essential role for the grapevine MADS-box gene VvMADS28 in morphogenesis of the ovule. We found that VvMADS28 mRNA accumulated in the ovules of a seeded cultivar, 'Red Globe', throughout the course of ovule and seed development, especially within the integument/seed coat. In contrast, in the seedless cultivar 'Thompson Seedless', VvMADS28 was expressed only weakly in ovules, and this was associated with increased levels of histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) within the VvMADS28 promoter region. RNAi-mediated transient suppression of VvMADS28 expression in 'Red Globe' led to reduced seed size associated with inhibition of episperm and endosperm cell development. Heterologous overexpression of VvMADS28 in transgenic tomatoes interfered with sepal development and resulted in smaller fruit but did not obviously affect seed size. Assays in yeast cells showed that VvMADS28 is subject to regulation by the transcription factor VvERF98, and that VvMADS28 could interact with the Type I/ Mβ MADS-domain protein VvMADS5. Moreover, through DNA-affinity purification-sequencing (DAP-seq), we found that VvMADS28 protein specifically binds to the promoter of the grapevine WUSCHEL (VvWUS) gene, suggesting that maintenance of the VvMADS28-VvMADS5 dimer and VvWUS expression homeostasis influences seed development. Taken together, our results provide insight into regulatory mechanisms of ovule and seed development associated with VvMADS28.