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1.  Large-scale screening of transcription factor–promoter interactions in spruce reveals a transcriptional network involved in vascular development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(9):2319-2333.
This research aimed to investigate the role of diverse transcription factors (TFs) and to delineate gene regulatory networks directly in conifers at a relatively high-throughput level. The approach integrated sequence analyses, transcript profiling, and development of a conifer-specific activation assay. Transcript accumulation profiles of 102 TFs and potential target genes were clustered to identify groups of coordinately expressed genes. Several different patterns of transcript accumulation were observed by profiling in nine different organs and tissues: 27 genes were preferential to secondary xylem both in stems and roots, and other genes were preferential to phelloderm and periderm or were more ubiquitous. A robust system has been established as a screening approach to define which TFs have the ability to regulate a given promoter in planta. Trans-activation or repression effects were observed in 30% of TF–candidate gene promoter combinations. As a proof of concept, phylogenetic analysis and expression and trans-activation data were used to demonstrate that two spruce NAC-domain proteins most likely play key roles in secondary vascular growth as observed in other plant species. This study tested many TFs from diverse families in a conifer tree species, which broadens the knowledge of promoter–TF interactions in wood development and enables comparisons of gene regulatory networks found in angiosperms and gymnosperms.
PMCID: PMC4036505  PMID: 24713992
Conifer; expression pattern; Picea glauca; secondary cell wall; somatic embryogenesis; trans-activation assay; transcription factor; xylem.
2.  Gene family structure, expression and functional analysis of HD-Zip III genes in angiosperm and gymnosperm forest trees 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:273.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3017839  PMID: 21143995
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.
PMCID: PMC2576632  PMID: 18805909
4.  MAP-ping genomic organization and organ-specific expression profiles of poplar MAP kinases and MAP kinase kinases 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:223.
As in other eukaryotes, plant mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are composed of three classes of hierarchically organized protein kinases, namely MAPKKKs, MAPKKs, and MAPKs. These modules rapidly amplify and transduce extracellular signals into various appropriate intracellular responses. While extensive work has been conducted on the post-translational regulation of specific MAPKKs and MAPKs in various plant species, there has been no systematic investigation of the genomic organization and transcriptional regulation of these genes.
Ten putative poplar MAPKK genes (PtMKKs) and 21 putative poplar MAPK genes (PtMPKs) have been identified and located within the poplar (Populus trichocarpa) genome. Analysis of exon-intron junctions and of intron phase inside the predicted coding region of each candidate gene has revealed high levels of conservation within and between phylogenetic groups. Expression profiles of all members of these two gene families were also analyzed in 17 different poplar organs, using gene-specific primers directed at the 3'-untranslated region of each candidate gene and real-time quantitative PCR. Most PtMKKs and PtMPKs were differentially expressed across this developmental series.
This analysis provides a complete survey of MAPKK and MAPK gene expression profiles in poplar, a large woody perennial plant, and thus complements the extensive expression profiling data available for the herbaceous annual Arabidopsis thaliana. The poplar genome is marked by extensive segmental and chromosomal duplications, and within both kinase families, some recently duplicated paralogous gene pairs often display markedly different patterns of expression, consistent with the rapid evolution of specialized protein functions in this highly adaptive species.
PMCID: PMC1574314  PMID: 16945144

Results 1-4 (4)