Rice SNF2 family helicase ENL1 is essential for syncytial endosperm development.

Research paper by Tomomi T Hara, Hirokazu H Katoh, Daisuke D Ogawa, Yasuaki Y Kagaya, Yutaka Y Sato, Hidemi H Kitano, Yasuo Y Nagato, Ryo R Ishikawa, Akemi A Ono, Tetsu T Kinoshita, Shin S Takeda, Tsukaho T Hattori

Indexed on: 21 Oct '14Published on: 21 Oct '14Published in: The Plant Journal


The endosperm of cereal grains represents the most important source of human nutrition. In addition, the endosperm provides many investigatory opportunities for biologists because of the unique processes that occur during its ontogeny, including syncytial development at early stages. Rice endospermless 1 (enl1) develops seeds lacking an endosperm but carrying a functional embryo. The enl1 endosperm produces strikingly enlarged amoeboid nuclei. These abnormal nuclei result from a malfunction in mitotic chromosomal segregation during syncytial endosperm development. The molecular identification of the causal gene revealed that ENL1 encodes an SNF2 helicase family protein that is orthologous to human Plk1-Interacting Checkpoint Helicase (PICH), which has been implicated in the resolution of persistent DNA catenation during anaphase. ENL1-Venus (enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)) localizes to the cytoplasm during interphase but moves to the chromosome arms during mitosis. ENL1-Venus is also detected on a thread-like structure that connects separating sister chromosomes. These observations indicate the functional conservation between PICH and ENL1 and confirm the proposed role of PICH. Although ENL1 dysfunction also affects karyokinesis in the root meristem, enl1 plants can grow in a field and set seeds, indicating that its indispensability is tissue-dependent. Notably, despite the wide conservation of ENL1/PICH among eukaryotes, the loss of function of the ENL1 ortholog in Arabidopsis (CHR24) has only marginal effects on endosperm nuclei and results in normal plant development. Our results suggest that ENL1 is endowed with an indispensable role to secure the extremely rapid nuclear cycle during syncytial endosperm development in rice.