Evolutionary variation in MADS-box dimerization affects floral development and protein stability
Abraham Juárez, María Jazmín
Schrager Lavelle, Amanda
"Shifting interactions between MADS-box transcription factors may have been critical in the emergence of the flower, and in floral diversification. However, how evolutionary variation in MADS-box interactions affects the development and evolution of floral form remains unknown. Interactions between B-class MADS-box proteins are variable across the grass family. Here, we test the functional consequences of this evolutionary variability using maize as an experimental system. We found that differential B-class dimerization was associated with subtle, quantitative differences in stamen shape. In contrast, differential dimerization resulted in large-scale changes to protein complex composition and downstream gene expression. Differential dimerization also affected B-class complex abundance, independent of RNA levels. Thus, differential dimerization may affect protein stability. This reveals an important consequence for evolutionary variability in MADS-box interactions, adding complexity to the evolution of developmental gene networks. Our results show that floral development is robust to molecular change, even coding change in a master regulator of development. This robustness may contribute to the evolvability of floral form."