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Plant Cell. 2010 Mar;22(3):690-702. doi: 10.1105/tpc.109.065946. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

The Arabidopsis floral homeotic proteins APETALA3 and PISTILLATA negatively regulate the BANQUO genes implicated in light signaling.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Conecticut 06520-8104, USA.


The Arabidopsis thaliana MADS box transcription factors APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI) heterodimerize and are required to specify petal identity, yet many details of how this regulatory process is effected are unclear. We have identified three related genes, BHLH136/BANQUO1 (BNQ1), BHLH134/BANQUO2 (BNQ2), and BHLH161/BANQUO3 (BNQ3), as being directly and negatively regulated by AP3 and PI in petals. BNQ1, BNQ2, and BNQ3 encode products belonging to a family of atypical non-DNA binding basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins that heterodimerize with and negatively regulate bHLH transcription factors. We show that bnq3 mutants have pale-green sepals and carpels and decreased chlorophyll levels, suggesting that BNQ3 has a role in regulating light responses. The ap3 bnq3 double mutant displays pale second-whorl organs, supporting the hypothesis that BNQ3 is downstream of AP3. Consistent with a role in light response, we show that the BNQ gene products regulate the function of HFR1 (for LONG HYPOCOTYL IN FAR-RED1), which encodes a bHLH protein that regulates photomorphogenesis through modulating phytochrome and cryptochrome signaling. The BNQ genes also are required for appropriate regulation of flowering time. Our results suggest that petal identity is specified in part through downregulation of BNQ-dependent photomorphogenic and developmental signaling pathways.

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