A plant-specific HUA2-LIKE (HULK) gene family in Arabidopsis thaliana is essential for development.
ABSTRACT: In Arabidopsis thaliana, the HUA2 gene is required for proper expression of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and AGAMOUS, key regulators of flowering time and reproductive development, respectively. Although HUA2 is broadly expressed, plants lacking HUA2 function have only moderately reduced plant stature, leaf initiation rate and flowering time. To better understand HUA2 activity, and to test whether redundancy with similar genes underlies the absence of strong phenotypes in HUA2 mutant plants, we identified and subsequently characterized three additional HUA2-LIKE (HULK) genes in Arabidopsis. These genes form two clades (HUA2/HULK1 and HULK2/HULK3), with members broadly conserved in both vascular and non-vascular plants, but not present outside the plant kingdom. Plants with progressively reduced HULK activity had increasingly severe developmental defects, and plants homozygous for loss-of-function mutations in all four HULK genes were not recovered. Multiple mutants displayed reproductive, embryonic and post-embryonic abnormalities, and provide detailed insights into the overlapping and unique functions of individual HULK genes. With regard to flowering time, opposing influences were apparent: hua2 hulk1 plants were early-flowering, while hulk2 hulk3 mutants were late-flowering, and hua2 acted epistatically to cause early flowering in all combinations. Genome-wide expression profiling of mutant combinations using RNA-Seq revealed complex transcriptional changes in seedlings, with FLC, a known target of HUA2, among the most affected. Our studies, which include characterization of HULK expression patterns and subcellular localization, suggest that the HULK genes encode conserved nuclear factors with partially redundant but essential functions associated with diverse genetic pathways in plants.
Project description:BRAHMA (BRM) is a member of a family of ATPases of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes from Arabidopsis. BRM has been previously shown to be crucial for vegetative and reproductive development.Here we carry out a detailed analysis of the flowering phenotype of brm mutant plants which reveals that, in addition to repressing the flowering promoting genes CONSTANS (CO), FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CO1 (SOC1), BRM also represses expression of the general flowering repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Thus, in brm mutant plants FLC expression is elevated, and FLC chromatin exhibits increased levels of histone H3 lysine 4 tri-methylation and decreased levels of H3 lysine 27 tri-methylation, indicating that BRM imposes a repressive chromatin configuration at the FLC locus. However, brm mutants display a normal vernalization response, indicating that BRM is not involved in vernalization-mediated FLC repression. Analysis of double mutants suggests that BRM is partially redundant with the autonomous pathway. Analysis of genetic interactions between BRM and the histone H2A.Z deposition machinery demonstrates that brm mutations overcome a requirement of H2A.Z for FLC activation suggesting that in the absence of BRM, a constitutively open chromatin conformation renders H2A.Z dispensable.BRM is critical for phase transition in Arabidopsis. Thus, BRM represses expression of the flowering promoting genes CO, FT and SOC1 and of the flowering repressor FLC. Our results indicate that BRM controls expression of FLC by creating a repressive chromatin configuration of the locus.
Project description:Heterosis is an important phenomenon in agriculture. However, heterosis often greatly varies among hybrids and among traits. To investigate heterosis across a large number of traits and numerous genotypes, we evaluated 12 life history traits on parents and hybrids derived from five Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes (Col, Ler-0, Cvi, Ws, and C24) by using a complete diallel analysis containing 20 hybrids. Parental contributions to heterosis were hybrid and trait specific with a few reciprocal differences. Most notably, C24 generated hybrids with flowering time, biomass, and reproductive traits that often exceeded high-parent values. However, reproductive traits of C24 and Col hybrids and flowering time traits of C24 and Ler hybrids had no heterosis. We investigated whether allelic variation at flowering time genes FRIGIDA (FRI) and FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) could explain the genotype- and trait-specific contribution of C24 to hybrid traits. We evaluated both Col and Ler lines introgressed with various FRI and FLC alleles and hybrids between these lines and C24. Hybrids with functional FLC differed from hybrids with nonfunctional FLC for 21 of the 24 hybrid-trait combinations. In most crosses, heterosis was fully or partially explained by FRI and FLC. Our results describe the genetic diversity for heterosis within a sample of A. thaliana ecotypes and show that FRI and FLC are major factors that contribute to heterosis in a genotype and trait specific fashion.
Project description:The Arabidopsis rugosa1 (rug1) mutant has irregularly shaped leaves and reduced growth. In the absence of pathogens, leaves of rug1 plants have spontaneous lesions reminiscent of those seen in lesion-mimic mutants; rug1 plants also express cytological and molecular markers associated with defence against pathogens. These rug1 phenotypes are made stronger by dark/light transitions. The rug1 mutant also has delayed flowering time, upregulation of the floral repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and downregulation of the flowering promoters FT and SOC1/AGL20. Vernalization suppresses the late flowering phenotype of rug1 by repressing FLC. Microarray analysis revealed that 280 nuclear genes are differentially expressed between rug1 and wild type; almost a quarter of these genes are involved in plant defence. In rug1, the auxin response is also affected and several auxin-responsive genes are downregulated. We identified the RUG1 gene by map-based cloning and found that it encodes porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD), also known as hydroxymethylbilane synthase, an enzyme of the tetrapyrrole biosynthesis pathway, which produces chlorophyll, heme, siroheme and phytochromobilin in plants. PBGD activity is reduced in rug1 plants, which accumulate porphobilinogen. Our results indicate that Arabidopsis PBGD deficiency impairs the porphyrin pathway and triggers constitutive activation of plant defence mechanisms leading to leaf lesions and affecting vegetative and reproductive development.
Project description:The epigenetic repression of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) in winter-annual ecotypes of Arabidopsis by prolonged cold ensures that plants flower in spring and not during winter. Resetting of the FLC expression level in progeny is an important step in the life cycle of the plant. We show that both the paternally derived and the maternally derived FLC:GUS genes are reset to activity but that the timing of their first expression differs. The paternal FLC:GUS gene in vernalized plants is expressed in the male reproductive organs, the anthers, in both somatic tissue and in the sporogenous pollen mother cells, but there is no expression in mature pollen. In the progeny generation, the paternally derived FLC:GUS gene is expressed in the single-celled zygote (fertilized egg cell) and through embryo development, but not in the fertilized central cell, which generates the endosperm of the progeny seed. FLC:GUS is not expressed during female gametogenesis, with the maternally derived FLC:GUS being first expressed in the early multicellular embryo. We show that FLC activity during late embryo development is a prerequisite for the repressive action of FLC on flowering.
Project description:Specific gene states can be transmitted to subsequent cell generations through mitosis involving particular chromatin (epigenetic) states. During reproduction of plants and animals, however, most epigenetic states are reset to allow development to start anew. Flowering is one of the critical developmental steps by which plants acquire their reproductive capacity. This phase transition is controlled by environmental signals and autonomous regulation. The FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) gene is a flowering repressor that is epigenetically silenced after long-term exposure to cold, ensuring flowering in the spring season. In Arabidopsis thaliana, epigenetically silenced FLC expression is reset during sexual reproduction. Plants have a remarkable potential to regenerate from somatic cells. However, little is known about whether the regeneration process is similar to sexual reproduction in terms of affecting chromatin states. Here, we tested whether FLC silencing is reset during in vitro regeneration. Transcriptional repression and high H3K27me3 at FLC were both stably transmitted, resulting in early flowering in regenerated shoots. Thus, the silenced epigenetic state of FLC is reset only during sexual reproduction and not during in vitro regeneration. In contrast, the active epigenetic state of FLC was only partially maintained through in vitro reproduction, suggesting that regeneration causes stochastic FLC silencing.
Project description:Post-transcriptional control is nowadays considered a main checking point for correct gene regulation during development, and RNA binding proteins actively participate in this process. Arabidopsis thaliana FLOWERING LOCUS WITH KH DOMAINS (FLK) and PEPPER (PEP) genes encode RNA-binding proteins that contain three K-homology (KH)-domain, the typical configuration of Poly(C)-binding ribonucleoproteins (PCBPs). We previously demonstrated that FLK and PEP interact to regulate FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), a central repressor of flowering time. Now we show that FLK and PEP also play an important role in the maintenance of the C-function during floral organ identity by post-transcriptionally regulating the MADS-box floral homeotic gene AGAMOUS (AG). Previous studies have indicated that the KH-domain containing protein HEN4, in concert with the CCCH-type RNA binding protein HUA1 and the RPR-type protein HUA2, facilitates maturation of the AG pre-mRNA. In this report we show that FLK and PEP genetically interact with HEN4, HUA1, and HUA2, and that the FLK and PEP proteins physically associate with HUA1 and HEN4. Taken together, these data suggest that HUA1, HEN4, PEP and FLK are components of the same post-transcriptional regulatory module that ensures normal processing of the AG pre-mRNA. Our data better delineates the roles of PEP in plant development and, for the first time, links FLK to a morphogenetic process.
Project description:MADS-box transcription factors FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and APETALA1 (AP1)/CAULIFLOWER (CAL) have an opposite effect in vernalization-regulated flowering in Arabidopsis. In woody plants, a functional FLC-like gene has not been verified through reverse genetics. To reveal chilling-regulated flowering mechanisms in woody fruit crops, we conducted phylogenetic analysis of the annotated FLC-like proteins of apple and found that these proteins are grouped more closely to Arabidopsis AP1 than the FLC group. An FLC3-like MADS-box gene from columnar apple trees (Malus domestica) (MdFLC3-like) was cloned for functional analysis through a constitutive transgenic expression. The MdFLC3-like shows 88% identity to pear's FLC-like genes and 82% identity to blueberry's CAL1 gene (VcCAL1). When constitutively expressed in a highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivar 'Legacy', the MdFLC3-like induced expressions of orthologues of three MADS-box genes, including APETALA1, SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS 1, and CAL1. As a consequence, in contrast to the anticipated late flowering associated with an overexpressed FLC-like, the MdFLC3-like promoted flowering of transgenic blueberry plants under nonchilling conditions where nontransgenic 'Legacy' plants could not flower. Thus, the constitutively expressed MdFLC3-like in transgenic blueberries functioned likely as a blueberry's VcCAL1. The results are anticipated to facilitate future studies for revealing chilling-mediated flowering mechanisms in woody plants.
Project description:Plant flowering is a crucial developmental transition from the vegetative to reproductive phase and is properly timed by a number of intrinsic and environmental cues. Genetic studies have identified that chromatin modification influences the expression of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), a MADS-box transcription factor that controls flowering time. Histone deacetylation and methylation at H3K9 and H3K27 are associated with repression of FLC; in contrast, methylation at H3K4 and H3K36 activates FLC expression. However, little is known about the functions of histone arginine methylation in plants. Here, we report that Arabidopsis Shk1 binding protein 1 (SKB1) catalyzes histone H4R3 symmetric dimethylation (H4R3sme2). SKB1 lesion results in upregulation of FLC and late flowering under both long and short days, but late flowering is reversed by vernalization and gibberellin treatments. An skb1-1flc-3 double mutant blocks late-flowering phenotype, which suggests that SKB1 promotes flowering by suppressing FLC transcription. SKB1 binds to the FLC promoter, and disruption of SKB1 results in reduced H4R3sme2, especially in the promoter of FLC chromatin. Thus, SKB1-mediated H4R3sme2 is a novel histone mark required for repression of FLC expression and flowering time control.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Flowering is a key process in the life cycle of plants. The transition from vegetative to reproductive growth is thus under sophisticated regulation by endogenous and environmental signals. The plant-specific Teosinte Branched 1/Cycloidea/Proliferating Cell Factors (TCP) family transcription factors are involved in many biological processes, but their roles in regulating flowering have not been totally elucidated. RESULTS:We explored the role of Arabidopsis TCP8 in plant development and, especially, in flowering control. Overexpression of TCP8 significantly delayed flowering under both long-day and short-day conditions and dominant repression by TCP8 led to various growth defects. The upregulation of TCP8 led to more accumulated mRNA level of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), a central floral repressor of Arabidopsis. TCP8 functions in an FLC-dependent manner, as TCP8 overexpression in the flc-6 loss-of-function mutant failed to delay flowering. The vernalization treatment could reverse the late flowering phenotype caused by TCP8 overexpression. CONCLUSIONS:Our results provide evidence for a role of TCP8 in flowering control and add to our knowledge of the molecular basis of TCP8 function.
Project description:FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) has a key role in the timing of the initiation of flowering in Arabidopsis. FLC binds and represses two genes that promote flowering, FT and SOC1. We show that FLC binds to many other genes, indicating that it has regulatory roles other than the repression of flowering. We identified 505 FLC binding sites, mostly located in the promoter regions of genes and containing at least one CArG box, the motif known to be associated with MADS-box proteins such as FLC. We examined 40 of the target genes, and 20 showed increased transcript levels in an flc mutant compared with the wild type. Five genes showed decreased expression in the mutant, indicating that FLC binding can result in either transcriptional repression or activation. The genes we identified as FLC targets are involved in developmental pathways throughout the life history of the plant, many of which are associated with reproductive development. FLC is also involved in vegetative development, as evidenced by its binding to SPL15, delaying the progression from juvenile to adult phase. Some of the FLC target genes are also bound by two other MADS-box proteins, AP1 and SEP3, suggesting that MADS-box genes may operate in a network of control at different stages of the life cycle, many ultimately contributing to the development of the reproductive phase of the plant.