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1.  Arabidopsis AtHB7 and AtHB12 evolved divergently to fine tune processes associated with growth and responses to water stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:150.
Background
Arabidopsis AtHB7 and AtHB12 transcription factors (TFs) belong to the homeodomain-leucine zipper subfamily I (HD-Zip I) and present 62% amino acid identity. These TFs have been associated with the control of plant development and abiotic stress responses; however, at present it is not completely understood how AtHB7 and AtHB12 regulate these processes.
Results
By using different expression analysis approaches, we found that AtHB12 is expressed at higher levels during early Arabidopsis thaliana development whereas AtHB7 during later developmental stages. Moreover, by analysing gene expression in single and double Arabidopsis mutants and in transgenic plants ectopically expressing these TFs, we discovered a complex mechanism dependent on the plant developmental stage and in which AtHB7 and AtHB12 affect the expression of each other. Phenotypic analysis of transgenic plants revealed that AtHB12 induces root elongation and leaf development in young plants under standard growth conditions, and seed production in water-stressed plants. In contrast, AtHB7 promotes leaf development, chlorophyll levels and photosynthesis and reduces stomatal conductance in mature plants. Moreover AtHB7 delays senescence processes in standard growth conditions.
Conclusions
We demonstrate that AtHB7 and AtHB12 have overlapping yet specific roles in several processes related to development and water stress responses. The analysis of mutant and transgenic plants indicated that the expression of AtHB7 and AtHB12 is regulated in a coordinated manner, depending on the plant developmental stage and the environmental conditions. The results suggested that AtHB7 and AtHB12 evolved divergently to fine tune processes associated with development and responses to mild water stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-150
PMCID: PMC4064807  PMID: 24884528
AtHB7; AtHB12; Homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip I); Moderate water stress; Yield; Plant growth
2.  RNAi-mediated silencing of the HD-Zip gene HD20 in Nicotiana attenuata affects benzyl acetone emission from corollas via ABA levels and the expression of metabolic genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:60.
Background
The N. attenuata HD20 gene belongs to the homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) type I family of transcription factors and it has been previously associated with the regulation of ABA accumulation in leaves and the emission of benzyl acetone (BA; 4-phenyl-2-butanone) from night flowers. In this study, N. attenuata plants stably reduced in the expression of HD20 (ir-hd20) were generated to investigate the mechanisms controlling the emission of BA from night flowers.
Results
The expression of HD20 in corollas of ir-hd20 plants was reduced by 85 to 90% compared to wild-type plants (WT) without affecting flower morphology and development. Total BA emitted from flowers of ir-hd20 plants was reduced on average by 60%. This reduction occurred mainly at the late phase of BA emission and it was correlated with 2-fold higher levels of ABA in the corollas of ir-hd20 plants. When a 2-fold decline in ABA corolla levels of these plants was induced by salt stress, BA emissions recovered to WT levels. Supplying ABA to WT flowers either through the cuticle or by pedicle feeding reduced the total BA emissions by 25 to 50%; this reduction occurred primarily at the late phase of emission (similar to the reduction observed in corollas of ir-hd20 plants). Gene expression profiling of corollas collected at 12 pm (six hours before the start of BA emission) revealed that 274 genes changed expression levels significantly in ir-hd20 plants compared to WT. Among these genes, more than 35% were associated with metabolism and the most prominent group was associated with the metabolism of aromatic compounds and phenylpropanoid derivatives.
Conclusions
The results indicated that regulation of ABA levels in corollas is associated with the late phase of BA emission in N. attenuata plants and that HD20 affects this latter process by mediating changes in both ABA levels and metabolic gene expression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-60
PMCID: PMC3413612  PMID: 22548747
3.  Uncharacterized conserved motifs outside the HD-Zip domain in HD-Zip subfamily I transcription factors; a potential source of functional diversity 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:42.
Background
Plant HD-Zip transcription factors are modular proteins in which a homeodomain is associated to a leucine zipper. Of the four subfamilies in which they are divided, the tested members from subfamily I bind in vitro the same pseudopalindromic sequence CAAT(A/T)ATTG and among them, several exhibit similar expression patterns. However, most experiments in which HD-Zip I proteins were over or ectopically expressed under the control of the constitutive promoter 35S CaMV resulted in transgenic plants with clearly different phenotypes. Aiming to elucidate the structural mechanisms underlying such observation and taking advantage of the increasing information in databases of sequences from diverse plant species, an in silico analysis was performed. In addition, some of the results were also experimentally supported.
Results
A phylogenetic tree of 178 HD-Zip I proteins together with the sequence conservation presented outside the HD-Zip domains allowed the distinction of six groups of proteins. A motif-discovery approach enabled the recognition of an activation domain in the carboxy-terminal regions (CTRs) and some putative regulatory mechanisms acting in the amino-terminal regions (NTRs) and CTRs involving sumoylation and phosphorylation. A yeast one-hybrid experiment demonstrated that the activation activity of ATHB1, a member of one of the groups, is located in its CTR. Chimerical constructs were performed combining the HD-Zip domain of one member with the CTR of another and transgenic plants were obtained with these constructs. The phenotype of the chimerical transgenic plants was similar to the observed in transgenic plants bearing the CTR of the donor protein, revealing the importance of this module inside the whole protein.
Conclusions
The bioinformatical results and the experiments conducted in yeast and transgenic plants strongly suggest that the previously poorly analyzed NTRs and CTRs of HD-Zip I proteins play an important role in their function, hence potentially constituting a major source of functional diversity among members of this subfamily.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-42
PMCID: PMC3060862  PMID: 21371298

Results 1-3 (3)