Mechanisms of programmed cell death modulated by phytoglobins in maize somatic embryogenesis

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Huang, Shuanglong
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American Society of Plant Biologists
Hemoglobins (Hbs) are heme-containing proteins belonging to the globin superfamily that are ubiquitous in most living organisms including prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In addition to the first legHbs found in leguminous plants, there are another three classes of phytoglobins (Pgbs) identified in various plant species including dicots and monocots. The ability of heme groups to bind gaseous ligands such as oxygen, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide (NO) places Pgbs as multifunctional players in various processes during plant growth and development under normal or stress conditions. The objective of this project is to investigate how transcriptional manipulation of ZmPgb1.1 and ZmPgb1.2 influences somatic embryogenesis in maize (Zea mays). Suppression of either of the two genes is sufficient to induce programmed cell death (PCD) through a pathway initiated by accumulation of nitric oxide (NO) and zinc (Zn2+), and mediated by production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The effect of the death program on the fate of the developing embryos is dependent upon the localization patterns of the two Pgbs. During somatic embryogenesis, ZmPgb1.2 transcripts are restricted to a few cells anchoring the embryos to the subtending embryogenic tissue, while ZmPgb1.1 transcripts extend to several embryonic domains. Suppression of ZmPgb1.2 induces PCD in the anchoring cells allowing the embryos to develop further, while suppression of ZmPgb1.1 results in massive PCD leading to embryo abortion. Cells suppressing the Pgb genes are also depleted of endogenous auxin (indole-3-acetic acid, IAA) localization established by polar auxin transport (PAT), thus suggesting a possible involvement of this plant hormone in the observed processes. Collectively, it appears that the cell specific expression of Pgbs has the capability to determine the developmental fate of embryogenic tissue during maize somatic embryogenesis through their effect on PCD. This novel regulation has implications for development and differentiation in other species.
hemoglobin, phytoglobin, nitric oxide, zinc, programmed cell death, in vitro embryogenesis
Huang S, Hill RD, Wally OS, Dionisio G, Ayele BT, Jami SK, Stasolla C. (2014) Hemoglobin control of cell survival/death decision regulates in vitro plant embryogenesis. Plant Physiology 165: 810-825