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1.  Gene family structure, expression and functional analysis of HD-Zip III genes in angiosperm and gymnosperm forest trees 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:273.
Background
Class III Homeodomain Leucine Zipper (HD-Zip III) proteins have been implicated in the regulation of cambium identity, as well as primary and secondary vascular differentiation and patterning in herbaceous plants. They have been proposed to regulate wood formation but relatively little evidence is available to validate such a role. We characterised and compared HD-Zip III gene family in an angiosperm tree, Populus spp. (poplar), and the gymnosperm Picea glauca (white spruce), representing two highly evolutionarily divergent groups.
Results
Full-length cDNA sequences were isolated from poplar and white spruce. Phylogenetic reconstruction indicated that some of the gymnosperm sequences were derived from lineages that diverged earlier than angiosperm sequences, and seem to have been lost in angiosperm lineages. Transcript accumulation profiles were assessed by RT-qPCR on tissue panels from both species and in poplar trees in response to an inhibitor of polar auxin transport. The overall transcript profiles HD-Zip III complexes in white spruce and poplar exhibited substantial differences, reflecting their evolutionary history. Furthermore, two poplar sequences homologous to HD-Zip III genes involved in xylem development in Arabidopsis and Zinnia were over-expressed in poplar plants. PtaHB1 over-expression produced noticeable effects on petiole and primary shoot fibre development, suggesting that PtaHB1 is involved in primary xylem development. We also obtained evidence indicating that expression of PtaHB1 affected the transcriptome by altering the accumulation of 48 distinct transcripts, many of which are predicted to be involved in growth and cell wall synthesis. Most of them were down-regulated, as was the case for several of the poplar HD-Zip III sequences. No visible physiological effect of over-expression was observed on PtaHB7 transgenic trees, suggesting that PtaHB1 and PtaHB7 likely have distinct roles in tree development, which is in agreement with the functions that have been assigned to close homologs in herbaceous plants.
Conclusions
This study provides an overview of HD-zip III genes related to woody plant development and identifies sequences putatively involved in secondary vascular growth in angiosperms and in gymnosperms. These gene sequences are candidate regulators of wood formation and could be a source of molecular markers for tree breeding related to wood properties.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-273
PMCID: PMC3017839  PMID: 21143995
2.  Subgroup 4 R2R3-MYBs in conifer trees: gene family expansion and contribution to the isoprenoid- and flavonoid-oriented responses 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(14):3847-3864.
Transcription factors play a fundamental role in plants by orchestrating temporal and spatial gene expression in response to environmental stimuli. Several R2R3-MYB genes of the Arabidopsis subgroup 4 (Sg4) share a C-terminal EAR motif signature recently linked to stress response in angiosperm plants. It is reported here that nearly all Sg4 MYB genes in the conifer trees Picea glauca (white spruce) and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine) form a monophyletic clade (Sg4C) that expanded following the split of gymnosperm and angiosperm lineages. Deeper sequencing in P. glauca identified 10 distinct Sg4C sequences, indicating over-represention of Sg4 sequences compared with angiosperms such as Arabidopsis, Oryza, Vitis, and Populus. The Sg4C MYBs share the EAR motif core. Many of them had stress-responsive transcript profiles after wounding, jasmonic acid (JA) treatment, or exposure to cold in P. glauca and P. taeda, with MYB14 transcripts accumulating most strongly and rapidly. Functional characterization was initiated by expressing the P. taeda MYB14 (PtMYB14) gene in transgenic P. glauca plantlets with a tissue-preferential promoter (cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase) and a ubiquitous gene promoter (ubiquitin). Histological, metabolite, and transcript (microarray and targeted quantitiative real-time PCR) analyses of PtMYB14 transgenics, coupled with mechanical wounding and JA application experiments on wild-type plantlets, allowed identification of PtMYB14 as a putative regulator of an isoprenoid-oriented response that leads to the accumulation of sesquiterpene in conifers. Data further suggested that PtMYB14 may contribute to a broad defence response implicating flavonoids. This study also addresses the potential involvement of closely related Sg4C sequences in stress responses and plant evolution.
doi:10.1093/jxb/erq196
PMCID: PMC2935864  PMID: 20732878
Gene family expansion; gymnosperms; isoprenoid metabolism; MYB transcription factors; microarray RNA profiling; Picea glauca; plant evolution; stress response; terpenes; tissue-specific expression
3.  Involvement of Pinus taeda MYB1 and MYB8 in phenylpropanoid metabolism and secondary cell wall biogenesis: a comparative in planta analysis 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(14):3925-3939.
The involvement of two R2R3-MYB genes from Pinus taeda L., PtMYB1 and PtMYB8, in phenylpropanoid metabolism and secondary cell wall biogenesis was investigated in planta. These pine MYBs were constitutively overexpressed (OE) in Picea glauca (Moench) Voss, used as a heterologous conifer expression system. Morphological, histological, chemical (lignin and soluble phenols), and transcriptional analyses, i.e. microarray and reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) were used for extensive phenotyping of MYB-overexpressing spruce plantlets. Upon germination of somatic embryos, root growth was reduced in both transgenics. Enhanced lignin deposition was also a common feature but ectopic secondary cell wall deposition was more strongly associated with PtMYB8-OE. Microarray and RT-qPCR data showed that overexpression of each MYB led to an overlapping up-regulation of many genes encoding phenylpropanoid enzymes involved in lignin monomer synthesis, while misregulation of several cell wall-related genes and other MYB transcription factors was specifically associated with PtMYB8-OE. Together, the results suggest that MYB1 and MYB8 may be part of a conserved transcriptional network involved in secondary cell wall deposition in conifers.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ern234
PMCID: PMC2576632  PMID: 18805909

Results 1-3 (3)