pistillata-5, an Arabidopsis B class mutant with strong defects in petal but not in stamen development


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The Arabidopsis floral organ identity genes APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI) encode related DNA-binding proteins of the MADS family. Considerable evidence supports the hypothesis that a heterodimer of AP3 and PI is an essential component of B class activity. All ap3 and pi alleles characterized to date exhibit equivalent phenotypic defects in both whorls 2 and 3. In strong ap3 and pi mutants, petals and stamens are missing and sepals and carpels develop in their place. Weak ap3 and pi mutants exhibit partial conversions of petals to sepals and stamens to carpels. In this report, we describe the isolation and characterization of pi-5, an unusual B class mutant that exhibits defects in whorl 2 where sepals develop in place of petals, but third whorl stamens are most often normal. pi-5 flowers resemble those from 35S::SEP3 antisense plants. pi-5 contains missense mutation in the K domain (PIE125K). PIE125K exhibits defects in heterodimerization with its partner protein AP3. Via a reverse yeast two-hybrid screen, AP3K139E was isolated as a compensatory mutant of PIE125K. The compensatory interaction between PIE125K and AP3K139E is observed both in yeast two-hybrid assays and in planta. On its own, AP3K139E exhibits defects in specifying both petal and stamen identity. In addition, PIE125K is defective in interaction with SEPALLATA proteins in both two- and three-hybrid assays suggesting that PIE125K is defective in forming higher order complexes of MADS proteins. The decreased concentration of PI/AP3/SEP complexes offers an explanation for the petal defects observed in both pi-5 and 35S::SEP3 antisense plants.