Characterization of the ZmbHLH122 transcription factor and its potential collaborators in maize male reproduction

Journal:Plant Growth Regulation

Author:Yongming Liu, Zhuofan Zhao, Gui Wei, Peng Zhang, Hai Lan, Suzhi Zhang, Chuan Li, Moju Cao.


OsEAT1 (DTD), a stamen-specific bHLH transcription factor, is a master regulator in rice male reproduction. To elucidate its functional mechanism in maize male reproduction, the maize orthologue ZmbHLH122 of OsEAT1 was isolated in this study. Sequence analysis revealed that the ZmbHLH122 coding sequence consists of 1422 bp which encode a protein of 473 amino acids. Bioinformatic analysis confirmed that ZmbHLH122 belongs to the bHLH TF family. The subcellular localization of ZmbHLH122-eGFP in rice protoplasts showed that ZmbHLH122 is a nuclear-localized protein. Yeast one-hybrid assays demonstrated that ZmbHLH122 exhibits weak transactivation ability. Genome-wide coexpression analysis identified 751 potential collaborators of ZmbHLH122, most of which are highly expressed in maize anthers and tassels, and sequence alignment analysis revealed that 43 coexpressed genes are homologous to Arabidopsis male fertility-related genes. Expression pattern analysis confirmed that ZmbHLH122 and its potential collaborators Ms23 (ZmbHLH16), ZmbHLH51, ZmbHLH66 (Ms32) and ZmMYB74 are preferentially expressed in the maize male reproductive organs, especially those at the uninucleate and early binucleate stages. Yeast two-hybrid assays revealed that ZmMYB74 directly interacts with two maize stamen development regulators, Ms23 (ZmbHLH16) and ZmbHLH51, and indirectly collaborates with ZmbHLH122. Our study lays the foundation for further understanding of the ZmbHLH122 molecular function in maize male reproduction.