Ethylene as a potent inducer of sexual development


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A novel and critical function of ethylene, a potent plant hormone, has been well documented in Dictyostelium, because it leads cells to the sexual development (macrocyst formation) by inducing zygote formation. Zygote formation (sexual cell fusion) and the subsequent nuclear fusion are the characteristic events occurring during macrocyst formation. A novel gene, zyg1 was found to be predominantly expressed during the sexual development, and its enforced expression actually induces zygote formation. As expected, the zygote inducer, ethylene enhances the expression of zyg1. Thus the function of ethylene has been verified at all of individual (macrocyst formation), cellular (zygote formation), and molecular levels (zyg1 expression). Based on our recent studies concerning the behavior and function of the zyg1 product (ZYG1 protein), the signal transduction pathways involved in zygote formation are proposed in this review.