Functional Characterization of a Heterologously Expressed Brassica napus WRKY41-1 Transcription Factor in Regulating Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana
Shaowei Duan, Jianjun Wang, Chenhao Gao, Changyu Jin, Dong Li, Danshuai Peng, Guomei Du, Yiqian Li, Mingxun Chen.
Abstract: Previous studies have shown that a plant WRKY transcription factor, WRKY41, has multiple functions, and regulates seed dormancy, hormone signaling pathways, and both biotic and abiotic stress responses. However, it is not known about the roles of AtWRKY41 from the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and its ortholog, BnWRKY41, from the closely related and important oil-producing crop, Brassica napus, in the regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis. Here, we found that the wrky41 mutation in A. thaliana resulted in a significant increase in anthocyanin levels in rosette leaves, indicating that AtWRKY41 acts as repressor of anthocyanin biosynthesis. RNA sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed increased expression of three regulatory genes AtMYB75, AtMYB111, and AtMYBD, and two structural genes, AT1G68440 and AtGSTF12, all of which contribute to anthocyanin biosynthesis, in the sixth rosette leaves of wrky41-2 plants at 20days after germination. We cloned the full length complementary DNA of BnWRKY41-1 from the C2 subgenome of the B. napus genotype Westar and observed that, when overexpressed in tobacco leaves as a fusion protein with green fluorescent protein, BnWRKY41-1 is localized to the nucleus. We further showed that overexpression of BnWRKY41-1 in the A. thaliana wrky41-2 mutant rescued the higher anthocyanin content phenotype in rosette leaves of the mutant. Moreover, the elevated expression levels in wrky41-2 rosette leaves of several important regulatory and structural genes regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis were not observed in the BnWRKY41-1 overexpressing lines. These results reveal that BnWRKY41-1 has a similar role with AtWRKY41 in regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis when overexpressed in A. thaliana. This gene represents a promising target for genetically manipulating B. napus to increase the amounts of anthocyanins in rosette leaves.