During double fertilization in Arabidopsis thaliana, the egg cell secretes small cysteine-rich EC1 (egg cell 1) proteins, which enable the arriving sperm pair to rapidly interact with the two female gametes. EC1 proteins are members of the large and unexplored group of ECA1 (early culture abundant 1) gametogenesis-related family proteins, characterized by a prolamin-like domain with six conserved cysteine residues that may form three pairs of disulfide bonds. The distinguishing marks of egg-cell-expressed EC1 proteins are, however, two short amino acid sequence motifs present in all EC1-like proteins. EC1 genes appear to encode the major CRPs (cysteine-rich proteins) expressed by the plant egg cell, and they are restricted to flowering plants, including the most basal extant flowering plant Amborella trichopoda. Many other ECA1 gametogenesis-related family genes are preferentially expressed in the synergid cell. Functional diversification among the ECA1 gametogenesis-related family is suggested by the different patterns of expression in the female gametophyte and the low primary sequence conservation.

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