The transcription factor HIG1/MYB51 regulates indolic glucosinolate biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana

Tamara Gigolashvili, Bettina Berger, Hans-Peter Mock, Caroline Müller, Bernd Weisshaar, Ulf-Ingo Flügge
Plant Journal 2007, 50 (5): 886-901
Glucosinolates are a class of plant secondary metabolites that serve as antiherbivore compounds in plant defence. A previously identified Arabidopsis thaliana activation-tagged line, displaying altered levels of secondary metabolites, was shown here to be affected in the content of indolic and aliphatic glucosinolates. The observed chemotype was caused by activation of the R2R3-MYB transcription factor gene HIG1 (HIGH INDOLIC GLUCOSINOLATE 1, also referred to as MYB51). HIG1/MYB51 was shown to activate promoters of indolic glucosinolate biosynthetic genes leading to increased accumulation of indolic glucosinolates. The corresponding loss-of-function mutant hig1-1 contained low levels of glucosinolates. Overexpression of the related transcription factor ATR1/MYB34, which had previously been described as a regulator of indolic glucosinolate and indole-3-acetic acid homeostasis, in the hig1-1 mutant background led to a partial rescue of the mutant chemotype along with a severe high-auxin growth phenotype. Overexpression of MYB122, another close homologue of HIG1/MYB51, did not rescue the hig1-1 chemotype, but caused a high-auxin phenotype and increased levels of indolic glucosinolates in the wild-type. By contrast, overexpression of HIG1/MYB51 resulted in the specific accumulation of indolic glucosinolates without affecting auxin metabolism and plant morphology. Mechanical stimuli such as touch or wounding transiently induced the expression of HIG1/MYB51 but not of ATR1/MYB34, and HIG1/MYB51 overexpression reduced insect herbivory as revealed by dual-choice assays with the generalist lepidopteran herbivore, Spodoptera exigua. We hypothesize that HIG1/MYB51 is a regulator of indolic glucosinolate biosynthesis that also controls responses to biotic challenges.


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