The AGAMOUS (AG) gene is necessary for stamen and carpel development and is part of a monophyletic clade of MADS-box genes that also includes SHATTERPROOF1 (SHP1), SHP2, and SEEDSTICK (STK). Here, we show that ectopic expression of either the STK or SHP gene is sufficient to induce the transformation of sepals into carpeloid organs bearing ovules. Moreover, the fact that these organ transformations occur when the STK gene is expressed ectopically in ag mutants shows that STK can promote carpel development in the absence of AG activity. We also show that STK, AG, SHP1, and SHP2 can form multimeric complexes and that these interactions require the SEPALLATA (SEP) MADS-box proteins. We provide genetic evidence for this role of the SEP proteins by showing that a reduction in SEP activity leads to the loss of normal ovule development, similar to what occurs in stk shp1 shp2 triple mutants. Together, these results indicate that the SEP proteins, which are known to form multimeric complexes in the control of flower organ identity, also form complexes to control normal ovule development.
- MADS-box protein complex