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Iron (Fe) storage in plant seeds is not only necessary for seedling establishment following germination but is also a major source of dietary Fe for humans and other animals. Accumulation of Fe in seeds is known to be low during early seed development. However, the underlying mechanism and biological significance remain elusive. Here, we show that reduced expression of Arabidopsis YABBY transcription factor INNER NO OUTER (INO) increases embryonic Fe accumulation, while transgenic overexpression of INO results in the opposite effect. INO is highly expressed during early seed development, and decreased INO expression increases the expression of NATURAL RESISTANCE-ASSOCIATED MACROPHAGE PROTEIN 1 (NRAMP1), which encodes a transporter that contributes to seed Fe loading. The relatively high embryonic Fe accumulation conferred by decreased INO expression is rescued by the nramp1 loss-of-function mutation. We further demonstrated that INO represses NRAMP1 expression by binding to NRAMP1-specific promoter region. Interestingly, we found that excessive Fe loading into developing seeds of ino mutants results in greater oxidative damage, leading to increased cell death and seed abortion, a phenotype that can be rescued by the nramp1 mutation. Taken together, these results indicate that INO plays an important role in safeguarding reproduction by reducing Fe loading into developing seeds by repressing NRAMP1 expression.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Plant

Publication Date



Arabidopsis, embryo, iron, seed, toxicity, transcription factor