- The micropylar region of endosperm in a seed, which is adjacent to the radicle tip, is called the ‘endosperm cap’, and is specifically activated before radicle emergence. This activation of the endosperm cap is a widespread phenomenon among species and is a prerequisite for the completion of germination. To understand the mechanisms of endosperm cap-specific gene expression in tomato seeds, GeneChip analysis was performed. The major groups of endosperm cap-enriched genes were pathogenesis-, cell wall-, and hormone-associated genes. The promoter regions of endosperm cap-enriched genes contained DNA motifs recognized by ethylene response factors (ERFs). The tomato ERF1 (TERF1) and its experimentally verified targets were enriched in the endosperm cap, suggesting an involvement of the ethylene response cascade in this process. The known endosperm cap enzyme endo-β-mannanase is induced by gibberellin (GA), which is thought to be the major hormone inducing endosperm cap-specific genes. The mechanism of endo-β-mannanase induction by GA was also investigated using isolated, embryoless seeds. Results suggested that GA might act indirectly on the endosperm cap. We propose that endosperm cap activation is caused by the ethylene response of this tissue, as a consequence of mechanosensing of the increase in embryonic growth potential by GA action.