Control of somatic embryogenesis and embryo development by AP2 transcription factors
Members of the AP2 family of transcription factors, such as BABY BOOM (BBM), play important roles in cell proliferation and embryogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana (AtBBM) and Brassica napus (BnBBM) but how this occurs is not understood. We have isolated three AP2 genes (GmBBM1, GmAIL5, GmPLT2) from somatic embryo cultures of soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr, and discovered GmBBM1 to be homologous to AtBBM and BnBBM. GmAIL5 and GmPLT2 were homologous to Arabidopsis AINTEGUMENTA-like5 (AIL5) and PLETHORA2 (PLT2), respectively. Constitutive expression of GmBBM1 in Arabidopsis induced somatic embryos on vegetative organs and other pleiotropic effects on post-germinative vegetative organ development. Sequence comparisons of BBM orthologues revealed the presence of ten sequence motifs outside of the AP2 DNA-binding domains. One of the motifs, bbm-1, was specific to the BBM-like genes. Deletion and domain swap analyses revealed that bbm-1 was important for somatic embryogenesis and acted cooperatively with at least one other motif, euANT2, in the regulation of somatic embryogenesis and embryo development in transgenic Arabidopsis. The results provide new insights into the mechanisms by which BBM governs embryogenesis.