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Bacterium-Enabled Transient Gene Activation by Artificial Transcription Factor for Resolving Gene Regulation in Maize

By Mingxia Zhao, Zhao Peng, Yang Qin, Ling Zhang, Bin Tian, Yueying Chen, Yan Liu, Guifang Lin, Huakun Zheng, Cheng He, Kaiwen Lv, Harold N. Trick, Yunjun Liu, Myeong-Je Cho, Sunghun Park, Hairong Wei, Jun Zheng, Frank F. White, Sanzhen Liu

Posted 08 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.05.429970

Cellular functions are diversified through intricate transcription regulations, and an understanding gene regulation networks is essential to elucidating many developmental processes and environmental responses. Here, we employed the Transcriptional-Activator Like effectors (TALes), which represent a family of transcription factors that are synthesized by members of the {gamma}-proteobacterium genus Xanthomonas and secreted to host cells for activation of targeted host genes. Through delivery by the maize pathogen, Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum, designer TALes (dTALes), which are synthetic TALes, were used to induce the expression of the maize gene glossy3 (gl3), a MYB transcription factor gene involved in the cuticular wax biosynthesis. RNA-Seq analysis of leaf samples identified 146 gl3 downstream genes. Eight of the nine known genes known to be involved in the cuticular wax biosynthesis were up-regulated by at least one dTALe. A top-down Gaussian graphical model predicted that 68 gl3 downstream genes were directly regulated by GL3. A chemically induced mutant of the gene Zm00001d017418 from the gl3 downstream gene, encoding aldehyde dehydrogenase, exhibited a typical glossy leaf phenotype and reduced epicuticular waxes. The bacterial protein delivery of artificial transcription factors, dTALes, proved to be a straightforward and powerful approach for the revelation of gene regulation in plants.

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