TaMYB13-1, a R2R3 MYB transcription factor, regulates the fructan synthetic pathway and contributes to enhanced fructan accumulation in bread wheat

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Fructans are the major component of temporary carbon reserve in the stem of temperate cereals, which is used for grain filling. Three families of fructosyltransferases are directly involved in fructan synthesis in the vacuole of Triticum aestivum. The regulatory network of the fructan synthetic pathway is largely unknown. Recently, a sucrose-upregulated wheat MYB transcription factor (TaMYB13-1) was shown to be capable of activating the promoter activities of sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyltransferase (1-SST) and sucrose:fructan 6-fructosyltransferase (6-SFT) in transient transactivation assays. This work investigated TaMYB13-1 target genes and their influence on fructan synthesis in transgenic wheat. TaMYB13-1 overexpression resulted in upregulation of all three families of fructosyltransferases including fructan:fructan 1-fructosyltransferase (1-FFT). A γ-vacuolar processing enzyme (γ-VPE1), potentially involved in processing the maturation of fructosyltransferases in the vacuole, was also upregulated by TaMYB13-1 overexpression. Multiple TaMYB13 DNA-binding motifs were identified in the Ta1-FFT1 and Taγ-VPE1 promoters and were bound strongly by TaMYB13-1. The expression profiles of these target genes and TaMYB13-1 were highly correlated in recombinant inbred lines and during stem development as well as the transgenic and non-transgenic wheat dataset, further supporting a direct regulation of these genes by TaMYB13-1. TaMYB13-1 overexpression in wheat led to enhanced fructan accumulation in the leaves and stems and also increased spike weight and grain weight per spike in transgenic plants under water-limited conditions. These data suggest that TaMYB13-1 plays an important role in coordinated upregulation of genes necessary for fructan synthesis and can be used as a molecular tool to improve the high fructan trait.

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