OsNAC121 regulates root development, tillering, panicle morphology, and grain filling in rice plant

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Plant Mol Biol. 2024 Jul 2;114(4):82. doi: 10.1007/s11103-024-01476-3.

ABSTRACT

Transcription factors in coordination with phytohormones form an intricate regulatory network modulating vital cellular mechanisms like development, growth and senescence in plants. In this study, we have functionally characterized the transcription factor OsNAC121 by developing gene silencing and overexpressing transgenic rice plants, followed by detailed analyses of the plant architecture. Transgenic lines exhibited remodelling in crown root development, lateral root structure and density, tiller height and number, panicle and grain morphologies, underpinning the imbalanced auxin: cytokinin ratio due to perturbed auxin transportation. Application of cytokinin, auxin and abscisic acid increased OsNAC121 gene expression nearly 17-, 6- and 91-folds, respectively. qRT-PCR results showed differential expressions of auxin and cytokinin pathway genes, implying their altered levels. A 47-fold higher expression level of OsNAC121 during milky stage in untransformed rice, compared to 14-day old shoot tissue, suggests its crucial role in grain filling; as evidenced by a large number of undeveloped grains produced by the gene silenced lines. Crippled gravitropic response by the transgenic plants indicates their impaired auxin transport. Bioinformatics revealed that OsNAC121 interacts with co-repressor (TOPLESS) proteins and forms a part of the inhibitor complex OsIAA10, an essential core component of auxin signalling pathway. Therefore, OsNAC121 emerges as an important regulator of various aspects of plant architecture through modulation of crosstalk between auxin and cytokinin, altering their concentration gradient in the meristematic zones, and consequently modifying different plant organogenesis processes.

PMID:38954114 | DOI:10.1007/s11103-024-01476-3