Tuberculate fruit gene Tu encodes a C2 H2 zinc finger protein that is required for the warty fruit phenotype in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)

Xuqin Yang, Weiwei Zhang, Huanle He, Jingtao Nie, Beibei Bie, Junlong Zhao, Guoliang Ren, Yue Li, Dabing Zhang, Junsong Pan, Run Cai
Plant Journal 2014, 78 (6): 1034-46
Cucumber fruits that have tubercules and spines (trichomes) are known to possess a warty (Wty) phenotype. In this study, the tuberculate fruit gene Tu was identified by map-based cloning, and was found to encode a transcription factor (TF) with a single C2 H2 zinc finger domain. Tu was identified in all 38 Wty lines examined, and was completely absent from all 56 non-warty (nWty) lines. Cucumber plants transgenic for Tu (TCP) revealed that Tu was required for the Wty fruit phenotype. Subcellular localization showed that the fusion protein GFP-Tu was localized mainly to the nucleus. Based on analyses of semi-quantitative and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and mRNA in situ hybridization, we found that Tu was expressed specifically in fruit spine cells during development of fruit tubercules. Moreover, cytokinin (CTK) content measurements and cytological observations in Wty and nWty fruits revealed that the Wty fruit phenotype correlated with high endogenous CTK concentrations. As a result of further analyses on the transcriptomic profile of the nWty fruit epidermis and TCP fruit warts, expression of CTK-associated genes, and hormone content in nWty fruit epidermis, Wty fruit warts and epidermis, and TCP fruit warts and epidermis, we found that Tu probably promoted CTK biosynthesis in fruit warts. Here we show that Tu could not be expressed in the glabrous and tubercule-free mutant line gl that contained Tu, this result that futher confirmed the epistatic effect of the trichome (spine) gene Gl over Tu. Taken together, these data led us to propose a genetic pathway for the Wty fruit trait that could guide future mechanistic studies.


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