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The SrWRKY71 transcription factor negatively regulates SrUGT76G1 expression in Stevia rebaudiana

Zhang, Ting, Xu, Xiaoyang, Sun, Yuming, Gu, Chunsun, Hou, Menglan, Guan, Yunxiao, Yuan, Haiyan, Yang, Yongheng
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2020 v.148 pp. 26-34
Stevia rebaudiana, biosynthesis, callus, flowers, glycosides, leaves, promoter regions, roots, sequence analysis, stems, steviol, tobacco, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, transcriptional activation, zinc
SrUGT76G1 is vital for the biosynthesis of rebaudioside A, D and M in Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni; however, its transcriptional regulatory mechanism remains unknown. In this study, the 2050-bp promoter region of SrUGT76G1 was isolated by the TAIL-PCR method, and sequence analysis revealed the presence of several W-box cis-elements, which are the recognition motifs of WRKY transcription factors. Furthermore, SrWRKY71, characterized by a typical WRKY domain and a C2H2 zinc finger-like motif, was identified as a putative transcriptional regulator of SrUGT76G1. The transcript of SrWRKY71 predominantly accumulated in leaves and was present at a lower level in stems, roots and flowers. The SrWRKY71-GFP fusion protein was specifically localized to the nucleus in tobacco epidermal cells. In addition, the N and C terminal regions of SrWRKY71 contributed to its transactivation activity. Y1H and EMSA assays validated that SrWRKY71 binds directly to W-box1 and W-box2 in the proximal promoter region of SrUGT76G1. Moreover, SrWRKY71 represses the expression level of SrUGT76G1 in both tobacco leaves and stevia callus. Taken together, the data in this study represent the first identification of an essential upstream transcription factor of SrUGT76G1 and provides new insight into the regulatory network of steviol glycoside biosynthesis in Stevia rebaudiana.