Cyclin-dependent kinase complexes in developing maize endosperm: evidence for differential expression and functional specialization.

PMID 24240479


Endosperm development in maize (Zea mays L.) and related cereals comprises a cell proliferation stage followed by a period of rapid growth coupled to endoreduplication. Regulation of the cell cycle in developing endosperm is poorly understood. We have characterized various subunits of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) complexes, master cell cycle regulators in all eukaryotes. A-, B-, and D-type cyclins as well as A- and B-type cyclin-dependent kinases were characterized with respect to their RNA and protein expression profiles. Two main patterns were identified: one showing expression throughout endosperm development, and another characterized by a sharp down-regulation with the onset of endoreduplication. Cyclin CYCB1;3 and CYCD2;1 proteins were distributed in the cytoplasm and nucleus of cells throughout the endosperm, while cyclin CYCD5 protein was localized in the cytoplasm of peripheral cells. CDKB1;1 expression was strongly associated with cell proliferation. Expression and cyclin-binding patterns suggested that CDKA;1 and CDKA;3 are at least partially redundant. The kinase activity associated with the cyclin CYCA1 was highest during the mitotic stage of development, while that associated with CYCB1;3, CYCD2;1 and CYCD5 peaked at the mitosis-to-endoreduplication transition. A-, B- and D-type cyclins were more resistant to proteasome-dependent degradation in endoreduplicating than in mitotic endosperm extracts. These results indicated that endosperm development is characterized by differential expression and activity of specific cyclins and CDKs, and suggested that endoreduplication is associated with reduced cyclin proteolysis via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway.