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Plant Physiol. 2003 Jul;132(3):1391-404.

Interacting transcription factors from the three-amino acid loop extension superclass regulate tuber formation.

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  • 1Interdepartmental Plant Physiology Major, Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-1100, USA.


Using the yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) two-hybrid system and a potato (Solanum tuberosum) KNOX protein, designated POTH1, as bait, we have identified seven distinct interacting proteins from a stolon library of potato. All seven cDNAs are members of the BEL1-like family of transcription factors. Among these proteins, there are at least four regions of high sequence conservation including the homeodomain, the proline-tyrosine-proline three-amino acid loop extension, the SKY box, and a 120-amino acid region upstream from the homeodomain. Through deletion analysis, we identified a protein-binding domain present in the carboxy end of the KNOX domain of POTH1. The protein-binding domain in the BEL1 protein is located in the amino-terminal one-half of the 120-residue conserved region of the BELs. RNA-blot analysis showed differential patterns of RNA accumulation for the BELs in various potato organs. The level of StBEL5 mRNA increased in response to a short-day photoperiod in both leaves and stolons. Similar to sense mutants of POTH1, transgenic lines that overexpressed StBEL5 exhibited enhanced tuber formation even under noninductive conditions. Unlike POTH1 sense lines, however, these BEL lines did not exhibit the extreme leaf and stem morphology characteristic of KNOX overexpressers and displayed a more rapid rate of growth than control plants. Both StBEL5 and POTH1 sense lines exhibited an increase in cytokinin levels in shoot tips. StBEL5 lines also exhibited a decrease in the levels of GA 20-oxidase1 mRNA in stolon tips from long-day plants. Our results demonstrate an interaction between KNOX and BEL1-like transcription factors of potato that may potentially regulate processes of development.

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