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J Exp Bot. 2014 Feb;65(2):481-94. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ert392. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

The CCAAT box-binding transcription factor NF-YA1 controls rhizobial infection.

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INRA, Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes-Microorganismes (LIPM), UMR441, Castanet-Tolosan, F-31326, France.


Symbiosis between legume plants and soil rhizobia culminates in the formation of a novel root organ, the 'nodule', containing bacteria differentiated as facultative nitrogen-fixing organelles. MtNF-YA1 is a Medicago truncatula CCAAT box-binding transcription factor (TF), formerly called HAP2-1, highly expressed in mature nodules and required for nodule meristem function and persistence. Here a role for MtNF-YA1 during early nodule development is demonstrated. Detailed expression analysis based on RNA sequencing, quantitiative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), as well as promoter-β-glucuronidase (GUS) fusions reveal that MtNF-YA1 is first induced at the onset of symbiotic development during preparation for, and initiation and progression of, symbiotic infection. Moreover, using a new knock-out mutant, Mtnf-ya1-1, it is shown that MtNF-YA1 controls infection thread (IT) progression from initial root infection through colonization of nodule tissues. Extensive confocal and electronic microscopic observations suggest that the bulbous and erratic IT growth phenotypes observed in Mtnf-ya1-1 could be a consequence of the fact that walls of ITs in this mutant are thinner and less coherent than in the wild type. It is proposed that MtNF-YA1 controls rhizobial infection progression by regulating the formation and the wall of ITs.


CCAAT box-binding factor; Medicago truncatula; NF-YA; infection; infection thread; nodule development; rhizobium; symbiosis.

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