WRINKLED1 specifies the regulatory action of LEAFY COTYLEDON2 towards fatty acid metabolism during seed maturation in Arabidopsis


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The WRINKLED1 (WRI1) transcription factor has been shown to play a role of the utmost importance during oil accumulation in maturing seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana. However, little is known about the regulatory processes involved. In this paper, comprehensive functional analyses of three new mutants corresponding to null alleles of wri1 confirm that the induction of WRI1 is a prerequisite for fatty acid synthesis and is important for normal embryo development. The strong expression of WRI1 specifically detected at the onset of the maturation phase in oil-accumulating tissues of A. thaliana seeds is fully consistent with this function. Complementation experiments carried out with various seed-specific promoters emphasized the importance of a tight regulation of WRI1 expression for proper oil accumulation, raising the question of the factors controlling WRI1 transcription. Interestingly, molecular and genetic analyses using an inducible system demonstrated that WRI1 is a target of LEAFY COTYLEDON2 and is necessary for the regulatory action of LEC2 towards fatty acid metabolism. In addition to this, quantitative RT-PCR experiments suggested that several genes encoding enzymes of late glycolysis, the fatty acid synthesis pathway, and the biotin and lipoic acid biosynthetic pathways are targets of WRI1. Taken together, these results indicate new relationships in the regulatory model for the control of oil synthesis in maturing A. thaliana seeds. In addition, they exemplify how metabolic and developmental processes affecting the developing embryo can be coordinated at the molecular level.