Tetramerization of MADS family transcription factors SEPALLATA3 and AGAMOUS is required for floral meristem determinacy in Arabidopsis
Silva, Catarina S
Carles, Cristel C
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The MADS transcription factors (TF) constitute an ancient family of TF found in all eukaryotes that bind DNA as obligate dimers. Plants have dramatically expanded the functional diversity of the MADS family during evolution by adding protein–protein interaction domains to the core DNA-binding domain, allowing the formation of heterotetrameric complexes. Tetramerization of plant MADS TFs is believed to play a central role in the evolution of higher plants by acting as one of the main determinants of flower formation and floral organ specification. The MADS TF, SEPALLATA3 (SEP3), functions as a central protein–protein interaction hub, driving tetramerization with other MADS TFs. Here, we use a SEP3 splice variant, SEP3Δtet, which has dramatically abrogated tetramerization capacity to decouple SEP3 tetramerization and DNA-binding activities. We unexpectedly demonstrate that SEP3 heterotetramer formation is required for correct termination of the floral meristem, but plays a lesser role in floral organogenesis. The heterotetramer formed by SEP3 and the MADS protein, AGAMOUS, is necessary to activate two target genes, KNUCKLES and CRABSCLAW, which are required for meristem determinacy. These studies reveal unique and highly specific roles of tetramerization in flower development and suggest tetramerization may be required to activate only a subset of target genes in closed chromatin regions.
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