Gene regulation network analyses of pistil development in papaya

Zhenyang Liao, Fei Dong, Juan Liu, Lele Xu, Amy Marshall-Colon, Ray Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The pistil is an essential part of flowers that functions in the differentiation of the sexes and reproduction in plants. The stigma on the pistil can accept pollen to allow fertilization and seed development. Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is a dioecious plant, where female flowers exhibit normal pistil, while the male flowers exhibit aborted pistil at a late stage of pistil development. Results: The developmental stages of papaya pistil were analyzed after first dividing it into slices representing the primordium stage 1 (S1), the pre-meiotic stages S2, post-meiotic stage S3, and the mitotic stage S4. The SS scoring algorithm analysis of genes preferentially expressed at different stages revealed differentially expressed genes between male and female flowers. A transcription factor regulatory network for each stage based on the genes that are differentially expressed between male and female flowers was constructed. Some transcription factors related to pistil development were revealed based on the analysis of regulatory networks such as CpAGL11, CpHEC2, and CpSUPL. Based on the specific expression of genes, constructed a gene regulatory subnetwork with CpAGL11-CpSUPL-CpHEC2 functioning as the core. Analysis of the functionally enriched terms in this network reveals several differentially expressed genes related to auxin/ brassinosteroid signal transduction in the plant hormone signal transduction pathway. At the same time, significant differences in the expression of auxin and brassinosteroid synthesis-related genes between male and female flowers at different developmental stages were detected. Conclusions: The pistil abortion of papaya might be caused by the lack of expression or decreased expression of some transcription factors and hormone-related genes, affecting hormone signal transduction or hormone biosynthesis. Analysis of aborted and normally developing pistil in papaya provided new insights into the molecular mechanism of pistil development and sex differentiation in dioecious papaya.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Carica papaya
  • Gene regulatory network
  • Pistil development
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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