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Molecular controls of tuberization

Abstract

Tuber formation in potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a complex developmental process involving a number of important biological systems. Under conditions of a short-day photoperiod and cool temperature, a transmissible signal is activated that initiates cell division and expansion and a change in the orientation of cell growth in the subapical region of the stolon tip. In this signal transduction pathway, perception of the appropriate environmental cues occurs in leaves and is mediated by phytochrome and gibberellins (GA). Phytohormones also play a prominent role in regulating the morphological events of tuberization activated in the stolon apex. GA, cytokinins, and jasmonate-like compounds have all been implicated in regulating tuber development. High levels of GA are correlated with the inhibition of tuberization, whereas low levels are associated with induction. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA to regulate gene activity and, in some cases, to mediate hormone levels. Several of these DNA-binding proteins are involved in regulating plant growth and meristem development in potato, including tuber formation. One type, designated POTM1, regulates cytokinin levels in potato meristems and controls branching of axillary shoots. Two other types that physically interact, the BEL and KNOX proteins, mediate vegetative development. Transgenic plants that overexpressed BEL and KNOX proteins exhibited enhanced tuber formation even under long-day conditions. KNOX overexpressers exhibited abnormal leaf architecture and dwarfism. These transgenic lines exhibited a decrease in the levels of GA and an increase in cytokinin levels. In addition, the BEL transgenic lines grew more rapidly than wild-type plants. Our results indicate that DNA-binding proteins of potato mediate tuberization by enhancing or repressing the activity of specific target genes.

Resumen

La formación de tubérculos en papa (Solanum tuberosum L.) es un proceso complejo de desarrollo que compromete diferentes sistemas biológicos importantes. Bajo condiciones de foto período corto y temperatura fría, se activa una señal transmisible en la región subapical del estolón que inicia la división celular y la expansión y cambio de orientatión del crecimiento de las células. En esta via de transducción se realiza la percepción de las señales medio-ambientales apropiadas en las hojas, lo cual se obtiene por mediación del fitocromo y las giberelinas (GA). Las fitohormonas también juegan un rol prominente, regulando los eventos morfológicos de tuberización activados en el ápice del estolón. Las GA, citoquininas y compuestos como el jasmonato han sido implicados en la regulacion del desarrollo del tubérculo. Los niveles altos de GA están correlacionados con la inhibición de la tuberización, mientras que los niveles bajos están asociados con la inducción. Los factores de trascripción son proteínas que se unen al ADN para regular la actividad de los genes y en algunos casos, para regular los niveles hormonales. Varias de estas ligaduras proteicas del ADN están involucradas en la regulacion del crecimiento de la planta y el desarrollo de los meristemos en papa, incluyendo la formación de tubérculos. Un tipo denominado POTM1, regula los niveles de citoquinina en los meristemos de papa y controla la ramificación de los brotes axilares. Otros dos tipos que interactúan físicamente son las proteínas BEL y KNOX que intervienen en el desarrollo vegetativo. Las plantas transgénicas con sobre-producción de proteínas BEL y KNOX incrementaron la formacion de tubérculos aún en condiciones de día largo. Las plantas que sobreexpresaron el KNOX exhibieron una arquitectura anormal en las hojas y enanismo. Estas líneas transgénicas mostraron una disminución en los niveles de AG y un aumento en los niveles de citoquininas. Además, las líneas transgénicas BEL crecieron con mayor rapidez que las plantas del tipo silvestre. Nuestros resultados indican que las proteínas que ligan el ADN de papa, intervienen en la tuberización, aumentando o disminuyendo la actividad de los genes objetivo específicos.

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Correspondence to David J. Hannapel.

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This paper was originally presented as part of a symposium entitled “Recent Advances in the Physiology of Tuberization and Tuber Dormancy.” The symposium was held on 11 August 2003, by the Potato Association of America, in Spokane, WA.

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Hannapel, D.J., Chen, H., Rosin, F.M. et al. Molecular controls of tuberization. Am. J. Pot Res 81, 263–274 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02871768

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Additional Key Words

  • BEL1
  • Knottedl
  • MADS box
  • transcription factors