Decoding the gene regulatory network of endosperm differentiation in maize

Yue Yuan, Qiang Huo, Ziru Zhang, Qun Wang, Juanxia Wang, Shuaikang Chang, Peng Cai, Karen M. Song, David W. Galbraith, Weixiao Zhang, Long Huang, Rentao Song, Zeyang Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The persistent cereal endosperm constitutes the majority of the grain volume. Dissecting the gene regulatory network underlying cereal endosperm development will facilitate yield and quality improvement of cereal crops. Here, we use single-cell transcriptomics to analyze the developing maize (Zea mays) endosperm during cell differentiation. After obtaining transcriptomic data from 17,022 single cells, we identify 12 cell clusters corresponding to five endosperm cell types and revealing complex transcriptional heterogeneity. We delineate the temporal gene-expression pattern from 6 to 7 days after pollination. We profile the genomic DNA-binding sites of 161 transcription factors differentially expressed between cell clusters and constructed a gene regulatory network by combining the single-cell transcriptomic data with the direct DNA-binding profiles, identifying 181 regulons containing genes encoding transcription factors along with their high-confidence targets, Furthermore, we map the regulons to endosperm cell clusters, identify cell-cluster-specific essential regulators, and experimentally validated three predicted key regulators. This study provides a framework for understanding cereal endosperm development and function at single-cell resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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