Embryogenesis is the initial step in a plant's life, and the molecular changes that occur during embryonic development are largely unknown. To explore the relevant molecular events, we used the isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) coupled with the shotgun proteomics technique (iTRAQ/Shotgun) to study the proteomic changes of rice embryos during embryogenesis. For the first time, a total of 2 165 unique proteins were identified in rice embryos, and the abundances of 867 proteins were actively changed based on the statistical evaluation of the quantitative MS/MS signals. The quantitative data were then confirmed using multiple reactions monitoring (MRM) and were also supported by our previous study based on two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2 DE). Using the proteome at 6 days after pollination (DAP) as a reference, cluster analysis of these differential proteins throughout rice embryogenesis revealed that 25% were up-regulated and 75% were down-regulated. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis implicated that most of the up-regulated proteins were functionally categorized as stress responsive, mainly including heat shock-, lipid transfer-, and reactive oxygen species-related proteins. The stress-responsive proteins were thus postulated to play an important role during seed maturation.
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