A putative positive feedback regulation mechanism in CsACS2 expression suggests a modified model for sex determination in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)

Zheng Li, Shu Wang, Qianyi Tao, Junsong Pan, Longting Si, Zhenhui Gong, Run Cai
Journal of Experimental Botany 2012, 63 (12): 4475-84
It is well established that the plant hormone ethylene plays a key role in cucumber sex determination. Since the unisexual control gene M was cloned and shown to encode an ethylene synthase, instead of an ethylene receptor, the 'one-hormone hypothesis', which was used to explain the cucumber sex phenotype, has been challenged. Here, the physiological function of CsACS2 (the gene encoded by the M locus) was studied using the transgenic tobacco system. The results indicated that overexpression of CsACS2 increased ethylene production in the tobacco plant, and the native cucumber promoter had no activity in transgenic tobacco (PM). However, when PM plants were treated with exogenous ethylene, CsACS2 expression could be detected. In cucumber, ethylene treatment could also induce transcription of CsACS2, while inhibition of ethylene action reduced the expression level. These findings suggest a positive feedback regulation mechanism for CsACS2, and a modified 'one-hormone hypothesis' for sex determination in cucumber is proposed.

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