In angiosperms, the egg cell forms within the multicellular, haploid female gametophyte. Female gametophyte and egg cell development occurs through a unique process in which a haploid spore initially undergoes several rounds of synchronous nuclear divisions without cytokinesis, resulting in a single cell containing multiple nuclei. The developing gametophyte then forms cell walls (cellularization) and the resulting cells differentiate to generate the egg cell and several accessory cells. The switch between free nuclear divisions and cellularization-differentiation occurs during developmental stage FG5 in Arabidopsis, and we refer to it as the FG5 transition. The molecular regulators that initiate the FG5 transition during female gametophyte development are unknown. In this study, we show using mutant analysis that two closely related MYB transcription factors, MYB64 and MYB119, act redundantly to promote this transition. MYB64 and MYB119 are expressed during the FG5 transition, and most myb64 myb119 double mutant gametophytes fail to initiate the FG5 transition, resulting in uncellularized gametophytes with supernumerary nuclei. Analysis of cell-specific markers in myb64 myb119 gametophytes that do cellularize suggests that gametophytic polarity and differentiation are also affected. We also show using multiple-mutant analysis that MYB119 expression is regulated by the histidine kinase CKI1, the primary activator of two-component signaling (TCS) during female gametophyte development. Our data establish a molecular pathway regulating the FG5 transition and implicates CKI1-dependent TCS in the promotion of cellularization, differentiation, and gamete specification during female gametogenesis.
Female gamete formation in angiosperms occurs through a unique process in which a haploid spore initially undergoes a series of free nuclear divisions without cytokinesis, resulting in a single cell containing multiple nuclei. The nuclei then differentiate and are partitioned with cell walls to generate the egg cell and several accessory cells. The molecular regulators that initiate the switch between free nuclear divisions and differentiation during female gametophyte development are unknown. In this study we show that two transcription factors, MYB64 and MYB119, redundantly act to promote this process in the model organism Arabidopsis. We also show that one of them, MYB119, is transcriptionally regulated by the histidine-kinase CKI1. Our data establish the framework of a gene regulatory network required to promote cellularization, differentiation, and gamete specification during female gametogenesis.
The development of multicellular organisms relies on interconnected genetic programs that control progression through their life cycle. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and transcription factors (TFs) play key roles in such regulatory circuits. Here, we describe how three evolutionary conserved miRNA-TF pairs interact to form multiple checkpoints during reproductive development of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetic, cellular, and physiological experiments show that miR159- and miR319-regulated MYB and TCP transcription factors pattern the expression of miR167 family members and their ARF6/8 targets. Coordinated action of these miRNA-TF pairs is crucial for the execution of consecutive hormone-dependent transitions during flower maturation. Cross-regulation includes both cis- and trans-regulatory interactions between these miRNAs and their targets. Our observations reveal how different miRNA-TF pairs can be organized into modules that coordinate successive steps in the plant life cycle.
Development of multicellular organisms relies on properly timed execution of different genetic programs. An example is provided by developmental progression of flowers, which begins with the initiation of individual organs, followed by differentiation, growth, and finally production of the gametes. This article investigates the contribution of three microRNAs (miRNAs) and the transcription factors (TFs) that are regulated by these miRNAs to this process. Two of the miRNA-TF pairs act early to control in parallel the activity of the third miRNA-TF pair, which in turn modulates hormone programs that drive organ maturation and reproduction. Importantly, the two upstream TFs directly interact to regulate expression of the downstream miRNA. The results described here demonstrate how miRNA-TF pairs can be organized into regulatory circuits, with independent miRNA-TF pairs converging on common downstream genes.
The formation of leaf vein patterns has fascinated biologists for centuries. Transport of the plant signal auxin has long been implicated in vein patterning, but molecular details have remained unclear. Varied evidence suggests a central role for the plasma-membrane (PM)-localized PIN-FORMED1 (PIN1) intercellular auxin transporter of Arabidopsis thaliana in auxin-transport-dependent vein patterning. However, in contrast to the severe vein-pattern defects induced by auxin transport inhibitors, pin1 mutant leaves have only mild vein-pattern defects. These defects have been interpreted as evidence of redundancy between PIN1 and the other four PM-localized PIN proteins in vein patterning, redundancy that underlies many developmental processes. By contrast, we show here that vein patterning in the Arabidopsis leaf is controlled by two distinct and convergent auxin-transport pathways: intercellular auxin transport mediated by PM-localized PIN1 and intracellular auxin transport mediated by the evolutionarily older, endoplasmic-reticulum-localized PIN6, PIN8, and PIN5. PIN6 and PIN8 are expressed, as PIN1 and PIN5, at sites of vein formation. pin6 synthetically enhances pin1 vein-pattern defects, and pin8 quantitatively enhances pin1pin6 vein-pattern defects. Function of PIN6 is necessary, redundantly with that of PIN8, and sufficient to control auxin response levels, PIN1 expression, and vein network formation; and the vein pattern defects induced by ectopic PIN6 expression are mimicked by ectopic PIN8 expression. Finally, vein patterning functions of PIN6 and PIN8 are antagonized by PIN5 function. Our data define a new level of control of vein patterning, one with repercussions on other patterning processes in the plant, and suggest a mechanism to select cell files specialized for vascular function that predates evolution of PM-localized PIN proteins.
The beautiful and varied patterns of veins in plant leaves have intrigued both artists and scientists since antiquity. The seminal work of some of these scientists has shown that the plant hormone auxin and its transport in plant tissues control leaf vein patterning, but molecular details of auxin-transport-dependent vein patterning are still unknown. Here we find that vein patterning is controlled by the concerted action of two spatially separate auxin transport pathways. One pathway transports auxin from cell to cell, the other to and from different compartments within the cell. The cell-to-cell pathway of auxin transport seems to exist only in land plants with veins. The within-cell pathway of auxin transport seems to have appeared earlier in the evolution of plants and exists also in primitive land plants, which form vein-like structures. Our findings suggest an unsuspected level of control of vein patterning, one that regulates patterning of plant features beyond veins and that could even be relevant for the formation of vein-like structures of primitive land plants.
Higher plants adapt their growth to high temperature by a dramatic change in plant architecture. It has been shown that the transcriptional regulator phytochrome-interacting factor 4 (PIF4) and the phytohormone auxin are involved in the regulation of high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation in Arabidopsis. Here we report that PIF4 regulates high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation through direct activation of the auxin biosynthetic gene YUCCA8 (YUC8). We show that high temperature co-upregulates the transcript abundance of PIF4 and YUC8. PIF4–dependency of high temperature–mediated induction of YUC8 expression as well as auxin biosynthesis, together with the finding that overexpression of PIF4 leads to increased expression of YUC8 and elevated free IAA levels in planta, suggests a possibility that PIF4 directly activates YUC8 expression. Indeed, gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that PIF4 associates with the G-box–containing promoter region of YUC8. Transient expression assay in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves support that PIF4 directly activates YUC8 expression in vivo. Significantly, we show that the yuc8 mutation can largely suppress the long-hypocotyl phenotype of PIF4–overexpression plants and also can reduce high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. Genetic analyses reveal that the shy2-2 mutation, which harbors a stabilized mutant form of the IAA3 protein and therefore is defective in high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation, largely suppresses the long-hypocotyl phenotype of PIF4–overexpression plants. Taken together, our results illuminate a molecular framework by which the PIF4 transcriptional regulator integrates its action into the auxin pathway through activating the expression of specific auxin biosynthetic gene. These studies advance our understanding on the molecular mechanism underlying high temperature–induced adaptation in plant architecture.
Exposure of Arabidopsis to high temperature (29°C) results in a dramatic hypocotyl elongation. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor PIF4 and the phytohormone auxin play essential roles in high temperature–mediated induction of Arabidopsis hypocotyl elongation. However, the possible molecular linkage between PIF4 and the auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced adaptative growth remains unknown. Here, we report that high temperature–induced elevation of YUCCA8 (YUC8) transcripts and endogenous free IAA levels is dependent on the function of PIF4. In particular, we provide evidence that PIF4 directly activates the expression of YUC8 to upregulate auxin biosynthesis, as a consequence, achieves high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. In addition, we found that SHY2/IAA3 is an important component of the PIF4–auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. Overall, our results establish a direct connection between the PIF4 transcription factor and the auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced adaptation growth.
Flavin monooxygenases (FMOs) play critical roles in plant growth and development by synthesizing auxin and other signaling molecules. However, the structure and function relationship within plant FMOs is not understood. Here we defined the important residues and domains of the Arabidopsis YUC1 FMO, a key enzyme in auxin biosynthesis. We previously showed that simultaneous inactivation of YUC1 and its homologue YUC4 caused severe defects in vascular and floral development. We mutagenized the yuc4 mutant and screened for mutants with phenotypes similar to those of yuc1 yuc4 double mutants. Among the isolated mutants, five of them contained mutations in the YUC1 gene. Interestingly, the mutations identified in the new yuc1 alleles were concentrated in the two GXGXXG motifs that are highly conserved among the plant FMOs. One such motif presumably binds to flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) cofactor and the other binds to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH). We also identified the Ser139 to Phe conversion in yuc1, a mutation that is located between the two nucleotide-binding sites. By analyzing a series of yuc1 mutants, we identified key residues and motifs essential for the functions of YUC1 FMO.
The molecular nature of biological variation is not well understood. Indeed, many questions persist regarding the types of molecular changes and the classes of genes that underlie morphological variation within and among species. Here we have taken a candidate gene approach based on previous mapping results to identify the gene and ultimately a polymorphism that underlies a trichome density QTL in Arabidopsis thaliana. Our results show that natural allelic variation in the transcription factor ATMYC1 alters trichome density in A. thaliana; this is the first reported function for ATMYC1. Using site-directed mutagenesis and yeast two-hybrid experiments, we demonstrate that a single amino acid replacement in ATMYC1, discovered in four ecotypes, eliminates known protein–protein interactions in the trichome initiation pathway. Additionally, in a broad screen for molecular variation at ATMYC1, including 72 A. thaliana ecotypes, a high-frequency block of variation was detected that results in >10% amino acid replacement within one of the eight exons of the gene. This sequence variation harbors a strong signal of divergent selection but has no measurable effect on trichome density. Homologs of ATMYC1 are pleiotropic, however, so this block of variation may be the result of natural selection having acted on another trait, while maintaining the trichome density role of the gene. These results show that ATMYC1 is an important source of variation for epidermal traits in A. thaliana and indicate that the transcription factors that make up the TTG1 genetic pathway generally may be important sources of epidermal variation in plants.
Among the goals of modern evolutionary biology is to identify the molecular genetic sources of natural variation. Although genetic mapping has led to an increased understanding of the genetic architecture of natural variation, there are surprisingly few cases where the molecular source of the variation has been identified. Here, we utilize previous mapping results to identify the gene and ultimately a polymorphism that underlies natural variation for a dynamic trait in Arabidopsis thaliana: trichome density. We show that plants carrying a knock-out of the bHLH transcription factor ATMYC1 have a reduced trichome density phenotype; this is the first reported function for ATMYC1. Using traditional and molecular genetic approaches, we identify a single base change in natural alleles of ATMYC1, which leads to an amino acid replacement that qualitatively alters protein–protein interactions with known partners, presumably altering the trichome cell fate pathway. In a broad screen for molecular variation in ATMYC1, we identify a dense block of amino acid replacements that differentiates two high-frequency allele types. Although this block of variation does not appear to affect trichome density, based on paralogs of ATMYC1, we propose that this variation has arisen due to directional selection on another epidermal trait.
Plants need abundant nitrogen and phosphorus for higher yield. Improving plant
genetics for higher nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiency would save
potentially billions of dollars annually on fertilizers and reduce global
environmental pollution. This will require knowledge of molecular regulators for
maintaining homeostasis of these nutrients in plants. Previously, we reported
that the NITROGEN LIMITATION ADAPTATION (NLA)
gene is involved in adaptive responses to low-nitrogen conditions in
Arabidopsis, where nla mutant plants
display abrupt early senescence. To understand the molecular mechanisms
underlying NLA function, two suppressors of the
nla mutation were isolated that recover the
nla mutant phenotype to wild type. Map-based cloning
identified these suppressors as the phosphate (Pi) transport-related genes
PHF1 and PHT1.1. In addition,
NLA expression is shown to be regulated by the low-Pi
induced microRNA miR827. Pi analysis revealed that the early senescence in
nla mutant plants was due to Pi toxicity. These plants
accumulated over five times the normal Pi content in shoots specifically under
low nitrate and high Pi but not under high nitrate conditions. Also the Pi
overaccumulator pho2 mutant shows Pi toxicity in a
nitrate-dependent manner similar to the nla mutant. Further,
the nitrate and Pi levels are shown to have an antagonistic crosstalk as
displayed by their differential effects on flowering time. The results
demonstrate that NLA and miR827 have pivotal roles in
regulating Pi homeostasis in plants in a nitrate-dependent fashion.
Higher crop yields require increased use of fertilizers, especially for the prime
macronutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. Increasing nitrogen and phosphorus use
efficiency in plants would decrease crop production cost and reduce
environmental pollution. In an attempt to isolate the regulatory genes for
nitrogen and phosphorus homeostasis in plants, we identified the
NLA gene as having a role in plant adaptation under
low-nitrogen conditions. In the current work, detailed genetic and molecular
analysis for the functionality of this gene revealed that NLA
has a key role in the maintenance of phosphate (Pi) homeostasis in plants in a
nitrate-dependent fashion. Further, Pi has an antagonistic crosstalk with
nitrate, not only with regards to its accumulation, but also in its differential
effects on flowering time. Interestingly, the antagonistic genetic interaction
of Pi is with nitrate, but not with ammonium.
Cell-to-cell communication is crucial for the development of multicellular organisms, especially during the generation of new tissues and organs. Secondary growth—the lateral expansion of plant growth axes—is a highly dynamic process that depends on the activity of the cambium. The cambium is a stem cell–like tissue whose activity is responsible for wood production and, thus, for the establishment of extended shoot and root systems. Attempts to study cambium regulation at the molecular level have been hampered by the limitations of performing genetic analyses in trees and by the difficulty of accessing this tissue in model systems such as Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we describe the roles of two receptor-like kinases, REDUCED IN LATERAL GROWTH1 (RUL1) and MORE LATERAL GROWTH1 (MOL1), as opposing regulators of cambium activity. Their identification was facilitated by a novel in vitro system in which cambium formation is induced in isolated Arabidopsis stem fragments. By combining this system with laser capture microdissection, we characterized transcriptome remodeling in a tissue- and stage-specific manner and identified series of genes induced during different phases of cambium formation. In summary, we provide a means for investigating cambium regulation in unprecedented depth and present two signaling components that control a process responsible for the accumulation of a large proportion of terrestrial biomass.
In contrast to animals, plants have the capacity to grow and form new organs throughout their entire life cycle, thereby building up some of the largest organisms on earth. This remarkable capacity is based on the activity of stem cell–like tissues—the meristems—located at shoot and root apices and, in a large repertoire of species, in lateral positions at the flanks of growth axes. In comparison to apical meristems, our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms controlling the activity of lateral meristems like the cambium is very limited. This is despite the fact that lateral growth is responsible for wood formation, and thus for the accumulation of large amounts of terrestrial biomass, and for fixation of atmospheric CO2. Here, we introduce an in vitro system by which cambium initiation can be stimulated under controlled conditions in stems of the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana. By revealing genome-wide and tissue-specific alterations in transcript accumulation during cambium initiation, we identify two novel receptor-like kinases, namely MOL1 and RUL1, as opposing cambium regulators. These findings demonstrate that our in vitro system represents a valuable tool for studying cambium regulation and open up possibilities to dissect lateral growth in plants from novel perspectives.
In the studies incorporating worldwide sampling of A. thaliana populations, the samples from East Asia, especially from China, were very scattered; and the studies focused on global patterns of cpDNA genetic variation among accessions of A. thaliana are very few. In this study, chloroplast DNA sequence variability was used to infer phylogenetic relationships among Arabidopsis thaliana accessions from around the world, with the emphasis on samples from China.
A data set comprising 77 accessions of A. thaliana, including 19 field-collected Chinese accessions together with three related species (A. arenosa, A. suecica, and Olimarabidopsis cabulica) as the out-group, was compiled. The analysis of the nucleotide sequences showed that the 77 accessions of A. thaliana were partitioned into two major differentiated haplotype classes (MDHCs). The estimated divergence time of the two MDHCs was about 0.39 mya. Forty-nine haplotypes were detected among the 77 accessions, which exhibited nucleotide diversity (π) of 0.00169. The Chinese populations along the Yangtze River were characterized by five haplotypes, and the two accessions collected from the middle range of the Altai Mountains in China shared six specific variable sites.
The dimorphism in the chloroplast DNA could be due to founder effects during late Pleistocene glaciations and interglacial periods, although introgression cannot be ruled out. The Chinese populations along the Yangtze River may have dispersed eastwards to their present-day locations from the Himalayas. These populations originated from a common ancestor, and a rapid demographic expansion began approximately 90,000 years ago. Two accessions collected from the middle range of the Altai Mountains in China may have survived in a local refugium during late Pleistocene glaciations. The natural populations from China with specific genetic characteristics enriched the gene pools of global A. thaliana collections.
Cellulose represents the most abundant biopolymer in nature and has great economic importance. Cellulose chains pack laterally into crystalline forms, stacking into a complicated crystallographic structure. However, the mechanism of cellulose crystallization is poorly understood. Here, via functional characterization, we report that Brittle Culm1 (BC1), a COBRA-like protein in rice, modifies cellulose crystallinity. BC1 was demonstrated to be a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored protein and can be released into cell walls by removal of the GPI anchor. BC1 possesses a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) at its N-terminus. In vitro binding assays showed that this CBM interacts specifically with crystalline cellulose, and several aromatic residues in this domain are essential for binding. It was further demonstrated that cell wall-localized BC1 via the CBM and GPI anchor is one functional form of BC1. X-ray diffraction (XRD) assays revealed that mutations in BC1 and knockdown of BC1 expression decrease the crystallite width of cellulose; overexpression of BC1 and the CBM-mutated BC1s caused varied crystallinity with results that were consistent with the in vitro binding assay. Moreover, interaction between the CBM and cellulose microfibrils was largely repressed when the cell wall residues were pre-stained with two cellulose dyes. Treating wild-type and bc1 seedlings with the dyes resulted in insensitive root growth responses in bc1 plants. Combined with the evidence that BC1 and three secondary wall cellulose synthases (CESAs) function in different steps of cellulose production as revealed by genetic analysis, we conclude that BC1 modulates cellulose assembly by interacting with cellulose and affecting microfibril crystallinity.
Cellulose is an important natural resource with great economic value. Plant cellulose packs laterally into a complicated crystallographic structure, which determines cellulose quality and commercial uses. However, the mechanism of cellulose crystallization is poorly understood. Here we report that Brittle Culm1 (BC1), a COBRA-like (COBL) protein of rice, modifies cellulose crystallinity. Although previous studies have indicated the involvement of COB and COBL proteins in cellulose biosynthesis, the underlying molecular basis for this remains elusive. We demonstrate that BC1 localizes to the cell-wall and functions in a process that is distinct from that of the three secondary wall cellulose synthases (CESAs). A carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) at the N-terminus of BC1 interacts specifically with crystalline cellulose and regulates microfibril crystallite size. We conclude that BC1 modulates cellulose structure by binding to cellulose and affecting microfibril crystallinity. These findings provide new insights into the mechanism of cellulose assembly and further our understanding of the roles of COB and COBLs in cell wall biogenesis.
Rice blast disease is a major threat to rice production worldwide, but the mechanisms underlying rice resistance to the causal agent Magnaporthe oryzae remain elusive. Therefore, we carried out a transcriptome study on rice early defense response to M. oryzae. We found that the transcriptional profiles of rice compatible and incompatible interactions with M. oryzae were mostly similar, with genes regulated more prominently in the incompatible interactions. The functional analysis showed that the genes involved in signaling and secondary metabolism were extensively up-regulated. In particular, WRKY transcription factor genes were significantly enriched among the up-regulated genes. Overexpressing one of these WRKY genes, OsWRKY47, in transgenic rice plants conferred enhanced resistance against rice blast fungus. Our results revealed the sophisticated transcriptional reprogramming of signaling and metabolic pathways during rice early response to M. oryzae and demonstrated the critical roles of WRKY transcription factors in rice blast resistance.
Cereal endosperm represents 60% of the calories consumed by human beings worldwide. In addition, cereals also serve as the primary feedstock for livestock. However, the regulatory mechanism of cereal endosperm and seed development is largely unknown. Polycomb complex has been shown to play a key role in the regulation of endosperm development in Arabidopsis, but its role in cereal endosperm development remains obscure. Additionally, the enzyme activities of the polycomb complexes have not been demonstrated in plants. Here we purified the rice OsFIE2-polycomb complex using tandem affinity purification and demonstrated its specific H3 methyltransferase activity. We found that the OsFIE2 gene product was responsible for H3K27me3 production specifically in vivo. Genetic studies showed that a reduction of OsFIE2 expression led to smaller seeds, partially filled seeds, and partial loss of seed dormancy. Gene expression and proteomics analyses found that the starch synthesis rate limiting step enzyme and multiple storage proteins are down-regulated in OsFIE2 reduction lines. Genome wide ChIP–Seq data analysis shows that H3K27me3 is associated with many genes in the young seeds. The H3K27me3 modification and gene expression in a key helix-loop-helix transcription factor is shown to be regulated by OsFIE2. Our results suggest that OsFIE2-polycomb complex positively regulates rice endosperm development and grain filling via a mechanism highly different from that in Arabidopsis.
Rice is the staple food for over half of the world's population and an important feedstock for livestock. The rice grain is mainly endosperm tissue. The regulatory mechanism of rice endosperm development is still largely unknown thus far. Understanding the underlying mechanism will lead to crop yield and quality improvement in the long term, besides gaining new knowledge. Polycomb complex is a protein complex with a potential role in endosperm development according to prior publications. In this manuscript, we purified the rice OsFIE2-polycomb protein complex and demonstrated the enzyme activity of the complex. Genetic studies showed that a reduction of polycomb group gene OsFIE2 expression led to smaller seeds, partially filled seeds, and seed germination before seed maturation. Gene expression and proteomics analyses found that the starch synthesis rate limiting step enzyme and multiple storage proteins are down-regulated while a key transcription factor is up-regulated in OsFIE2 reduction lines. In addition, we identified many loci in the rice genome whose histone proteins are modified by the polycomb complex enzyme via a method called ChIP–Seq. Our results demonstrate that OsFIE2-polycomb complex positively regulates rice grain development via a mechanism distinct from that in Arabidopsis and provide new insight into the regulation of rice grain development.
Land plants have evolved increasingly complex regulatory modes of their flowering time (or heading date in crops). Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is a short-day plant that flowers more rapidly in short-day but delays under long-day conditions. Previous studies have shown that the CO-FT module initially identified in long-day plants (Arabidopsis) is evolutionary conserved in short-day plants (Hd1-Hd3a in rice). However, in rice, there is a unique Ehd1-dependent flowering pathway that is Hd1-independent. Here, we report isolation and characterization of a positive regulator of Ehd1, Early heading date 4 (Ehd4). ehd4 mutants showed a never flowering phenotype under natural long-day conditions. Map-based cloning revealed that Ehd4 encodes a novel CCCH-type zinc finger protein, which is localized to the nucleus and is able to bind to nucleic acids in vitro and transactivate transcription in yeast, suggesting that it likely functions as a transcriptional regulator. Ehd4 expression is most active in young leaves with a diurnal expression pattern similar to that of Ehd1 under both short-day and long-day conditions. We show that Ehd4 up-regulates the expression of the “florigen” genes Hd3a and RFT1 through Ehd1, but it acts independently of other known Ehd1 regulators. Strikingly, Ehd4 is highly conserved in the Oryza genus including wild and cultivated rice, but has no homologs in other species, suggesting that Ehd4 is originated along with the diversification of the Oryza genus from the grass family during evolution. We conclude that Ehd4 is a novel Oryza-genus-specific regulator of Ehd1, and it plays an essential role in photoperiodic control of flowering time in rice.
Rice is an important source of calories for mankind. Flowering time determines cropping seasons and regional adaptability of crops. Rice is originated from its wild progenitor, O. rufipogon, which is mainly distributed at tropical latitudes with a northern limit about 28 °N, more than 10,000 years ago. However, cultivated rice is now grown widely in Asia, with a northern limit of nearly 53 °N. The northward expansion of cultivated rice must be accompanied by human selection of the flowering time trait during domestication and breeding, to secure a harvest before cold weather approaches. By identifying a rice mutant that never flowers under natural long-day conditions (NLDs), we cloned Ehd4 as a novel transcriptional regulator that promotes flowering through activation of two “florigen” genes, the signals for flowering initiation. We found that Ehd4 has two major haplotypes: Hap_2 is the major haplotype in indica accessions mostly distributed in lower latitude and elevation zones, whereas Hap_3 is the major haplotype in japonica accessions mostly distributed in higher latitudes and elevation zones. Genetic studies showed that Hap_3 is functionally more potent in promoting flowering under NLDs, implying that Ehd4 may have contributed to the northward expansion and regional adaptability of cultivated rice into higher latitudes.
ASYMMETRIC LEAVES 1 (AS1) is a MYB-type transcription repressor that controls leaf development by regulating KNOX gene expression, but the underlying molecular mechanism is still unclear. In this study, we demonstrated that AS1 can interact with the histone deacetylase HDA6 in vitro and in vivo. The KNOX genes were up-regulated and hyperacetylated in the hda6 mutant, axe1-5, indicating that HDA6 may regulate KNOX expression through histone deacetylation. Compared with the single mutants, the as1-1/axe1-5 and as2-1/axe1-5 double mutants displayed more severe serrated leaf and short petiole phenotypes. In addition, the frequencies of leaf lobes and leaflet-like structures were also increased in as1-1/axe1-5 and as2-1/axe1-5 double mutants, suggesting that HDA6 acts together with AS1 and AS2 in regulating leaf development. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed that HDA6 and AS1 bound directly to KNAT1, KNAT2, and KNATM chromatin. Taken together, these data indicate that HDA6 is a part of the AS1 repressor complex to regulate the KNOX expression in leaf development.
AS1 is a MYB-type transcription repressor that controls leaf patterning by repressing class-1 KNOX gene expression. The molecular mechanism by which AS1 represses KNOX gene expression is still unclear. In this study, we found that AS1 interacted with the histone deacetylase HDA6. Furthermore, HDA6 repressed KNOX gene expression by histone deacetylation. hda6 mutants displayed serrated leaf and short petiole phenotypes. Additionally, hda6/as1-1 double-mutant plants showed a more severe phenotype compared to the single mutants, indicating that HDA6 may act together with AS1 in controlling leaf development. Taken together, our data indicated that HDA6 is an important component of the AS1 repressor complex in regulating the KNOX gene expression.
The Arabidopsis fruit mainly consists of a mature ovary that shows three well defined territories that are pattern elements along the mediolateral axis: the replum, located at the medial plane of the flower, and the valve and the valve margin, both of lateral nature. JAG/FIL activity, which includes the combined functions of JAGGED (JAG), FILAMENTOUS FLOWER (FIL), and YABBY3 (YAB3), contributes to the formation of the two lateral pattern elements, whereas the cooperating genes BREVIPEDICELLUS (BP) and REPLUMLESS (RPL) promote replum development. A recent model to explain pattern formation along the mediolateral axis hypothesizes that JAG/FIL activity and BP/RPL function as antagonistic lateral and medial factors, respectively, which tend to repress each other. In this work, we demonstrate the existence of mutual exclusion mechanisms between both kinds of factors, and how this determines the formation and size of the three territories. Medial factors autonomously constrain lateral factors so that they only express outside the replum, and lateral factors negatively regulate the medially expressed BP gene in a non-autonomous fashion to ensure correct replum development. We also have found that ASYMMETRIC LEAVES1 (AS1), previously shown to repress BP both in leaves and ovaries, collaborates with JAG/FIL activity, preventing its repression by BP and showing synergistic interactions with JAG/FIL activity genes. Therefore AS gene function (the function of the interacting genes AS1 and AS2) has been incorporated in the model as a new lateral factor. Our model of antagonistic factors provides explanation for mutant fruit phenotypes in Arabidopsis and also may help to understand natural variation of fruit shape in Brassicaceae and other species, since subtle changes in gene expression may cause conspicuous changes in the size of the different tissue types.
There are three main pattern elements in the mediolateral axis of the Arabidopsis fruit. Two of them, the valves and the valve margins, are placed in lateral positions, while the third, called replum, is located in the medial plane of the flower. The replum expresses meristematic genes (medial factors) that specify its development, whereas the function of genes that work in leaves (lateral factors) determines the development of valves and valve margins. Consequently, medial and lateral pattern elements of fruits apparently mimic the antagonistic relationships between meristem and leaves. According to this, we propose a model for mediolateral patterning of fruits whereby the mutual opposing activities of medial and lateral factors drive the formation of replum, valves, and valve margins. We conclude that medial factors function in an autonomous fashion to prevent the expression of lateral factors in the replum, and that lateral factors repress medial factors by a non-autonomous mechanism to allow normal replum development. Our model provides explanation for changes in fruit shape in Brassicaceae and related organisms either by mutation within a species or by natural variation among different species.
Heat stress commonly leads to inhibition of photosynthesis in higher plants. The transcriptional induction of heat stress-responsive genes represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis. Although heat stress transcription factor HsfA2 and its downstream target genes are well studied, the regulatory mechanisms by which HsfA2 is activated in response to heat stress remain elusive. Here, we show that chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) is a heat-responsive protein and functions in protein biosynthesis in chloroplast. Knockdown of RPS1 expression in the rps1 mutant nearly eliminates the heat stress-activated expression of HsfA2 and its target genes, leading to a considerable loss of heat tolerance. We further confirm the relationship existed between the downregulation of RPS1 expression and the loss of heat tolerance by generating RNA interference-transgenic lines of RPS1. Consistent with the notion that the inhibited activation of HsfA2 in response to heat stress in the rps1 mutant causes heat-susceptibility, we further demonstrate that overexpression of HsfA2 with a viral promoter leads to constitutive expressions of its target genes in the rps1 mutant, which is sufficient to reestablish lost heat tolerance and recovers heat-susceptible thylakoid stability to wild-type levels. Our findings reveal a heat-responsive retrograde pathway in which chloroplast translation capacity is a critical factor in heat-responsive activation of HsfA2 and its target genes required for cellular homeostasis under heat stress. Thus, RPS1 is an essential yet previously unknown determinant involved in retrograde activation of heat stress responses in higher plants.
As a consequence of global warming, increasing temperature is a serious threat to crop production worldwide and may influence the objectives of breeding programs. As a universal cellular response to a shift up in temperature, the heat stress response represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. Given that components of the photosynthetic apparatus housed in the chloroplast are the primary susceptible targets of thermal damage in plants, the chloroplasts were proposed as sensors to a shift up in temperature. However, the mechanism by which chloroplasts regulate the expression of nuclear heat stress–responsive gene expression according to the functional state of chloroplasts under heat stress remains unknown. In this study, we have identified chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) as a heat-responsive protein through proteomic screening of heat-responsive proteins. We have established a previously unrecognized molecular connection between the downregulation of RPS1 expression in chloroplast and the activation of HsfA2-dependent heat-responsive genes in nucleus, which is required for heat tolerance in higher plants. Our data provide new insights into the mechanisms whereby plant cells modulate nuclear gene expression to keep accordance with the current status of chloroplasts in response to heat stress.
Brassinosteroids (BRs) regulate rice plant architecture, including leaf bending, which affects grain yield. Although BR signaling has been investigated in Arabidopsis thaliana, the components negatively regulating this pathway are less well understood. Here, we demonstrate that Oryza sativa LEAF and TILLER ANGLE INCREASED CONTROLLER (LIC) acts as an antagonistic transcription factor of BRASSINAZOLE-RESISTANT 1 (BZR1) to attenuate the BR signaling pathway. The gain-of-function mutant lic-1 and LIC–overexpressing lines showed erect leaves, similar to BZR1–depleted lines, which indicates the opposite roles of LIC and BZR1 in regulating leaf bending. Quantitative PCR revealed LIC transcription rapidly induced by BR treatment. Image analysis and immunoblotting showed that upon BR treatment LIC proteins translocate from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in a phosphorylation-dependent fashion. Phosphorylation assay in vitro revealed LIC phosphorylated by GSK3–like kinases. For negative feedback, LIC bound to the core element CTCGC in the BZR1 promoter on gel-shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay and repressed its transcription on transient transformation assay. LIC directly regulated target genes such as INCREASED LEAF INCLINATION 1 (ILI1) to oppose the action of BZR1. Repression of LIC in ILI1 transcription in protoplasts was partially rescued by BZR1. Phenotypic analysis of the crossed lines depleted in both LIC and BZR1 suggested that BZR1 functionally depends on LIC. Molecular and physiology assays revealed that LIC plays a dominant role at high BR levels, whereas BZR1 is dominant at low levels. Thus, LIC regulates rice leaf bending as an antagonistic transcription factor of BZR1. The phenotypes of lic-1 and LIC–overexpressing lines in erect leaves contribute to ideal plant architecture. Improving this phenotype may be a potential approach to molecular breeding for high yield in rice.
Brassinosteroids (BRs) are phytohormones mediating multiple biological processes, such as development and stress response. They have been used in crops to produce high yield. In rice, the ideal plant architecture for high yield includes effective tillers, as well as height and leaf angle, which is modulated by BRs. Activation of BRI1–mediated BR signaling is well understood, but much less is known about its inactivating mechanism. Here, we found a gain-of-function mutant lic-1 with the phenotype of the ideal rice plant architecture. The C3H-type transcription factor LIC antagonizes BZR1 to repress BR signaling in rice. We used BR to induce the negative regulator LIC and found that it functioned at high BR level, which may restrain plant development. LIC was phosphorylated by GSK3–like kinases. Phosphorylated LIC mainly localized in cytoplasm, whereas dephosphorylated LIC was in nucleus, which was regulated by BR treatment. LIC regulated transcription patterns of the downstream genes in an opposite direction to BZR1. BZR1 activated BR signaling, but the brake module of LIC repressed BR cascade amplification. LIC and BZR1 may balance BR signaling to control growth and development in rice.
Eukaryotic mRNA transcription and turnover is controlled by an enzymatic machinery that includes RNA polymerase II and the 3′ to 5′ exosome. The activity of these protein complexes is modulated by additional factors, such as the nuclear RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (Paf1c) and the cytoplasmic Superkiller (SKI) complex, respectively. Their components are conserved across uni- as well as multi-cellular organisms, including yeast, Arabidopsis, and humans. Among them, SKI8 displays multiple facets on top of its cytoplasmic role in the SKI complex. For instance, nuclear yeast ScSKI8 has an additional function in meiotic recombination, whereas nuclear human hSKI8 (unlike ScSKI8) associates with Paf1c. The Arabidopsis SKI8 homolog VERNALIZATION INDEPENDENT 3 (VIP3) has been found in Paf1c as well; however, whether it also has a role in the SKI complex remains obscure so far. We found that transgenic VIP3-GFP, which complements a novel vip3 mutant allele, localizes to both nucleus and cytoplasm. Consistently, biochemical analyses suggest that VIP3–GFP associates with the SKI complex. A role of VIP3 in the turnover of nuclear encoded mRNAs is supported by random-primed RNA sequencing of wild-type and vip3 seedlings, which indicates mRNA stabilization in vip3. Another SKI subunit homolog mutant, ski2, displays a dwarf phenotype similar to vip3. However, unlike vip3, it displays neither early flowering nor flower development phenotypes, suggesting that the latter reflect VIP3's role in Paf1c. Surprisingly then, transgenic ScSKI8 rescued all aspects of the vip3 phenotype, suggesting that the dual role of SKI8 depends on species-specific cellular context.
The production and turnover of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are conserved processes in eukaryotes, from single-cell organisms to plants and mammals. To some degree, this is also true for modulators of these processes, such as the Paf1 and SKI complexes. One particular protein, SKI8, has been described to have a role in the SKI complex, which influences mRNA stability, both in yeast and in mammals. Moreover, in yeast SKI8 has an additional role in meiotic recombination, whereas in humans it influences mRNA production through association with the Paf1 complex. This functional divergence is commonly thought to arise from differences in protein sequence between the yeast and mammalian SKI8 homologs. Here we show that the conserved SKI8 homolog of the model plant Arabidopsis acts in the SKI complex as well as the Paf1 complex, similar to human. However, using an Arabidopsis ski8 mutant as a tool, we show that yeast SKI8 can fulfill all roles of Arabidopsis SKI8 if introduced into Arabidopsis cells. Thus, it appears that the functional divergence of SKI8 homologs might a priori be related to species-specific cellular context rather than divergence in protein sequence.
Arabidopsis TSO1 encodes a protein with conserved CXC domains known to bind DNA and is homologous to animal proteins that function in chromatin complexes. tso1 mutants fall into two classes due to their distinct phenotypes. Class I, represented by two different missense mutations in the CXC domain, leads to failure in floral organ development, sterility, and fasciated inflorescence meristems. Class II, represented by a nonsense mutation and a T-DNA insertion line, develops wild-type–like flowers and inflorescences but shows severely reduced fertility. The phenotypic variability of tso1 alleles presents challenges in determining the true function of TSO1. In this study, we use artificial microRNA, double mutant analysis, and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay to investigate the molecular basis underlying these two distinct classes of phenotypes. We show that the class I mutants could be converted into class II by artificial microRNA knockdown of the tso1 mutant transcript, suggesting that class I alleles produce antimorphic mutant proteins that interfere with functionally redundant loci. We identified one such redundant factor coded by the closely related TSO1 homolog SOL2. We show that the class I phenotype can be mimicked by knocking out both TSO1 and its homolog SOL2 in double mutants. Such antimorphic alleles targeting redundant factors are likely prevalent in Arabidopsis and maybe common in organisms with many sets of paralogous genes such as human. Our data challenge the conventional view that recessive alleles are always hypomorphic or null and that antimorphic alleles are always dominant. This study shows that recessive alleles can also be antimorphic and can produce a phenotype more severe than null by interfering with the function of related loci. This finding adds a new paradigm to classical genetic concepts, with important implications for future genetic studies both in basic research as well as in agriculture and medicine.
Much of our current genetic concepts and terms came from early pioneering work in Drosophila melanogaster, which has a relatively simple genome with reduced gene sets. One noted example is the term antimorph or dominant-negative, which describes mutant proteins that antagonize the corresponding wild-type proteins in a dominant fashion. In the process of characterizing Arabidopsis thaliana tso1 mutants, we discovered a novel genetic phenomenon “recessive antimorphism,” where certain recessive and missense mutations interfere with functionally redundant genes in the genome to reveal a broader range of phenotypes than the corresponding loss-of-function or null alleles. Our work indicates a rarely noted strength of Arabidopsis as a genetic model for studying species with complex genome architecture, including humans that possess significant chromosome segmental or genome duplications and increased gene copy numbers. It adds a new paradigm to classical genetic concepts with important implications for modern genetics in both medicine and agriculture.
Plants have a profound capacity to regenerate organs from differentiated somatic tissues, based on which propagating plants in vitro was made possible. Beside its use in biotechnology, in vitro shoot regeneration is also an important system to study de novo organogenesis. Phytohormones and transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) play critical roles in this process but whether and how epigenetic modifications are involved is unknown. Here, we report that epigenetic marks of DNA methylation and histone modifications regulate de novo shoot regeneration of Arabidopsis through modulating WUS expression and auxin signaling. First, functional loss of key epigenetic genes—including METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1) encoding for DNA methyltransferase, KRYPTONITE (KYP) for the histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methyltransferase, JMJ14 for the histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4) demethylase, and HAC1 for the histone acetyltransferase—resulted in altered WUS expression and developmental rates of regenerated shoots in vitro. Second, we showed that regulatory regions of WUS were developmentally regulated by both DNA methylation and histone modifications through bisulfite sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation. Third, DNA methylation in the regulatory regions of WUS was lost in the met1 mutant, thus leading to increased WUS expression and its localization. Fourth, we did a genome-wide transcriptional analysis and found out that some of differentially expressed genes between wild type and met1 were involved in signal transduction of the phytohormone auxin. We verified that the increased expression of AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR3 (ARF3) in met1 indeed was due to DNA demethylation, suggesting DNA methylation regulates de novo shoot regeneration by modulating auxin signaling. We propose that DNA methylation and histone modifications regulate de novo shoot regeneration by modulating WUS expression and auxin signaling. The study demonstrates that, although molecular components involved in organogenesis are divergently evolved in plants and animals, epigenetic modifications play an evolutionarily convergent role in this process.
Plants have a strong ability to generate organs from differentiated somatic tissues. Due to this feature, shoot regeneration in vitro has been used as an important way for producing whole plants in agriculture and biotechnology. Phytohormones and the transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) are essential for reprogramming during de novo shoot regeneration. Epigenetic modifications are also critical for mammalian cell differentiation and organogenesis. Here, we show that epigenetic modifications mediate the de novo shoot regeneration in Arabidopsis. Mutations of key epigenetic genes resulted in altered WUS expression and developmental rates of regenerated shoots in vitro. Bisulfite sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed that the regulatory regions of WUS were developmentally regulated by both DNA methylation and histone modifications. By transcriptome analysis, we identified that some differentially expressed genes between wild type and met1 are involved in signal transduction of the phytohormone auxin. Our results suggest that DNA methylation and histone modifications regulate de novo shoot regeneration by modulating WUS expression and auxin signaling. The study demonstrates that, although molecular components involved in organogenesis are divergently evolved in plants and animals, epigenetic modifications play an evolutionarily convergent role during de novo organogenesis.
Photosynthesis is the final determinator for crop yield. To gain insight into genes controlling photosynthetic capacity, we selected from our large T-DNA mutant population a rice stunted growth mutant with decreased carbon assimilate and yield production named photoassimilate defective1 (phd1). Molecular and biochemical analyses revealed that PHD1 encodes a novel chloroplast-localized UDP-glucose epimerase (UGE), which is conserved in the plant kingdom. The chloroplast localization of PHD1 was confirmed by immunoblots, immunocytochemistry, and UGE activity in isolated chloroplasts, which was approximately 50% lower in the phd1-1 mutant than in the wild type. In addition, the amounts of UDP-glucose and UDP-galactose substrates in chloroplasts were significantly higher and lower, respectively, indicating that PHD1 was responsible for a major part of UGE activity in plastids. The relative amount of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG), a major chloroplast membrane galactolipid, was decreased in the mutant, while the digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) amount was not significantly altered, suggesting that PHD1 participates mainly in UDP-galactose supply for MGDG biosynthesis in chloroplasts. The phd1 mutant showed decreased chlorophyll content, photosynthetic activity, and altered chloroplast ultrastructure, suggesting that a correct amount of galactoglycerolipids and the ratio of glycolipids versus phospholipids are necessary for proper chloroplast function. Downregulated expression of starch biosynthesis genes and upregulated expression of sucrose cleavage genes might be a result of reduced photosynthetic activity and account for the decreased starch and sucrose levels seen in phd1 leaves. PHD1 overexpression increased photosynthetic efficiency, biomass, and grain production, suggesting that PHD1 plays an important role in supplying sufficient galactolipids to thylakoid membranes for proper chloroplast biogenesis and photosynthetic activity. These findings will be useful for improving crop yields and for bioenergy crop engineering.
Photosynthesis is carried out in chloroplast, a plant-specific organelle. Photosynthetic membranes in chloroplasts contain high levels of glycolipids, and UDP-galactose is a dominating donor for glycolipid biosynthesis. Although glycolipid assembly of photosynthetic membranes has been characterized at the genetic and enzymatic level, the mechanism of substrate supply of UDP-galactose for the glycolipid biosynthetic pathway remains obscure. By genetic screening of rice mutants that are impaired in photosynthetic capacity and carbon assimilation, we identified PHD1 as a novel nucleotide sugar epimerase involved in a process of glycolipid biosynthesis and participating in photosynthetic membrane biogenesis. PHD1 was preferentially expressed in green and meristem tissues, and the PHD1 protein was targeted to chloroplasts. We revealed that UDP-galactose for glycolipid biosynthesis catalyzed by the new enzyme was generated inside chloroplasts, and the reduced amounts of glycolipids in the mutant led to decreased chlorophyll content and photosynthetic activity. Overexpression of this gene lead to growth acceleration, enhanced photosynthetic efficiency, and finally improved biomass and grain yield in rice. These results suggest that PHD1 has significant economic implications in both traditional crop improvement and bioenergy crop production.
The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) is an important regulator of plant development and response to environmental stresses. In this study, we identified two ABA overly sensitive mutant alleles in a gene encoding Auxin Response Factor2 (ARF2). The expression of ARF2 was induced by ABA treatment. The arf2 mutants showed enhanced ABA sensitivity in seed germination and primary root growth. In contrast, the primary root growth and seed germination of transgenic plants over-expressing ARF2 are less inhibited by ABA than that of the wild type. ARF2 negatively regulates the expression of a homeodomain gene HB33, the expression of which is reduced by ABA. Transgenic plants over-expressing HB33 are more sensitive, while transgenic plants reducing HB33 by RNAi are more resistant to ABA in the seed germination and primary root growth than the wild type. ABA treatment altered auxin distribution in the primary root tips and made the relative, but not absolute, auxin accumulation or auxin signal around quiescent centre cells and their surrounding columella stem cells to other cells stronger in arf2-101 than in the wild type. These results indicate that ARF2 and HB33 are novel regulators in the ABA signal pathway, which has crosstalk with auxin signal pathway in regulating plant growth.
Abscisic acid is a phytohormone that regulates many aspects in plant growth and development and response to different biotic and abiotic stresses. Research on ABA inhibiting seed germination, controlling stomatal movement, and regulating gene expression has been widely performed. However, the molecular mechanism for ABA regulating root growth is not well known. We have set up a genetic screen by using ABA inhibiting root growth to identify ABA related mutants and to dissect the molecular mechanism of ABA regulating root growth. In this study, we identified two new mutant alleles that are defective in ARF2 gene. ARF2 is a transcriptional suppressor that has been found to be involved in ethylene, auxin, and brassinosteroid pathway to control plant growth and development. Our study indicates that ARF2 is an ABA responsive regulator that functions in both seed germination and primary root growth. ARF2 directly regulates the expression of a homeodomain gene HB33. We demonstrate that ABA treatment reduces the cell division and alters auxin distribution more in arf2 mutant than in the wild type, suggesting an important mechanism in ABA inhibiting the primary root growth through mediating cell division in root tips.
Floral organs display tremendous variation in their exterior that is essential for organogenesis and the interaction with the environment. This diversity in surface characteristics is largely dependent on the composition and structure of their coating cuticular layer. To date, mechanisms of flower organ initiation and identity have been studied extensively, while little is known regarding the regulation of flower organs surface formation, cuticle composition, and its developmental significance. Using a synthetic microRNA approach to simultaneously silence the three SHINE (SHN) clade members, we revealed that these transcription factors act redundantly to shape the surface and morphology of Arabidopsis flowers. It appears that SHNs regulate floral organs' epidermal cell elongation and decoration with nanoridges, particularly in petals. Reduced activity of SHN transcription factors results in floral organs' fusion and earlier abscission that is accompanied by a decrease in cutin load and modified cell wall properties. SHN transcription factors possess target genes within four cutin- and suberin-associated protein families including, CYP86A cytochrome P450s, fatty acyl-CoA reductases, GSDL-motif lipases, and BODYGUARD1-like proteins. The results suggest that alongside controlling cuticular lipids metabolism, SHNs act to modify the epidermis cell wall through altering pectin metabolism and structural proteins. We also provide evidence that surface formation in petals and other floral organs during their growth and elongation or in abscission and dehiscence through SHNs is partially mediated by gibberellin and the DELLA signaling cascade. This study therefore demonstrates the need for a defined composition and structure of the cuticle and cell wall in order to form the archetypal features of floral organs surfaces and control their cell-to-cell separation processes. Furthermore, it will promote future investigation into the relation between the regulation of organ surface patterning and the broader control of flower development and biological functions.
The cuticular layer that covers all aerial parts of plants plays a vital role not only in the interaction with environment but also in plant development and growth. Despite the recent significant achievements in the identification of structural genes involved in cuticle biosynthesis and secretion, little is known regarding the regulation of metabolic pathways generating cuticular constituents, more specifically wax and cutin. The Arabidopsis AP2-type transcription factor SHINE1/WAX INDUCER1 (SHN1/WIN1) was the first assigned regulator of a cuticle-related metabolic pathway; nevertheless, its mode of action and biological function remain uncertain due to redundancy with two additional clade members. Here, by co-silencing all three SHN clade members using an artificial microRNAs approach, we demonstrated that SHN transcription factors act redundantly in patterning reproductive organ surface, modulating processes associated with cell elongation, adhesion, and separation, which secure the proper function of these organs. It appears that SHN transcription factors act directly on downstream cutin and cell wall–modifying genes. These factors are likely part of the genetic network controlling floral organ development. Thus, SHN transcription factors link together cuticle assembly, cell wall remodeling, and flower development to form the archetypal surface of floral organs mediating plant reproduction through pollination and seed dispersal.
Stem cells are crucial in morphogenesis in plants and animals. Much is known about the mechanisms that maintain stem cell fates or trigger their terminal differentiation. However, little is known about how developmental time impacts stem cell fates. Using Arabidopsis floral stem cells as a model, we show that stem cells can undergo precise temporal regulation governed by mechanisms that are distinct from, but integrated with, those that specify cell fates. We show that two microRNAs, miR172 and miR165/166, through targeting APETALA2 and type III homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) genes, respectively, regulate the temporal program of floral stem cells. In particular, we reveal a role of the type III HD-Zip genes, previously known to specify lateral organ polarity, in stem cell termination. Both reduction in HD-Zip expression by over-expression of miR165/166 and mis-expression of HD-Zip genes by rendering them resistant to miR165/166 lead to prolonged floral stem cell activity, indicating that the expression of HD-Zip genes needs to be precisely controlled to achieve floral stem cell termination. We also show that both the ubiquitously expressed ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1) gene and its homolog AGO10, which exhibits highly restricted spatial expression patterns, are required to maintain the correct temporal program of floral stem cells. We provide evidence that AGO10, like AGO1, associates with miR172 and miR165/166 in vivo and exhibits “slicer” activity in vitro. Despite the common biological functions and similar biochemical activities, AGO1 and AGO10 exert different effects on miR165/166 in vivo. This work establishes a network of microRNAs and transcription factors governing the temporal program of floral stem cells and sheds light on the relationships among different AGO genes, which tend to exist in gene families in multicellular organisms.
Stem cells have the capacity to self renew while producing daughter cells that undergo differentiation. While some stem cells remain as stem cells throughout the life of an organism, others are programmed to terminate within developmental contexts. It is presumed that stem cell termination is simply the differentiation of stem cells into a specific cell type(s). Using floral stem cells as a model, we show that the temporally regulated termination of floral stem cells is genetically separable from stem cell differentiation, and thus we reveal the presence of a temporal program of stem cell regulation. We show that two microRNAs, miR172 and miR165/166, and two argonaute family proteins, ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1) and AGO10, regulate the termination of floral stem cells. We establish the homeodomain-leucine zipper (DH-Zip) genes, targets of miR165/166, as crucial factors in floral stem cell termination. While AGO1 is the major miRNA effector, the molecular function of AGO10 has been elusive. Here we demonstrate that AGO10 is also a miRNA effector in that AGO10 is associated with miRNAs in vivo and exhibits “slicer” activity in vitro. Despite the similar biochemical activities, AGO1 and AGO10 promote floral stem cell termination by exerting opposite effects on miR165/166.