Analysis of the CYC/TB1 class of TCP transcription factors in basal angiosperms and magnoliids

Stefanie Horn, Natalia Pabón-Mora, Vanessa S Theuß, Andrea Busch, Sabine Zachgo
Plant Journal 2015, 81 (4): 559-71
Flower monosymmetry contributes to specialized interactions between plants and their insect pollinators. In the magnoliids, flower monosymmetry is exhibited only in the Aristolochiaceae (Piperales). Aristolochia flowers develop a calyx-derived monosymmetric perianth that enhances pollination success by a flytrap mechanism. Aristolochia arborea forms additionally a special perianth outgrowth that mimics a mushroom to attract flies, the mushroom mimicry structure (MMS). In core eudicots, members of the CYC2 clade of TCP transcription factors are key regulators of corolla monosymmetry establishment. The CYC2 clade arose via core eudicot-specific duplications from ancestral CYC/TB1 genes. CYC/TB1 genes are also thought to affect monosymmetry formation in early diverging eudicot and monocot species. Here, we demonstrate that CYC/TB1 genes, named CYC-like genes (CYCL) are present in basal angiosperms and magnoliids. Expression analyses in A. arborea indicate that CYCL genes participate in perianth and MMS differentiation processes and do not support a CYCL gene function in initial flower monosymmetry formation. Heterologous CYCL and CYC2 gene overexpression studies in Arabidopsis show that Aristolochia CYCL proteins only perform a CYC2-like function when the CYCL TCP domain is replaced by a CYC2 domain. Comparative TCP domain analyses revealed that an LxxLL motif, known to mediate protein-protein interactions, evolved in the second helix of the TCP domain in the CYC2 lineage and contributes to CYC2-related functions. Our data imply that divergent evolution of the CYC/TB1 lineages caused significant changes in their coding regions, which together with cis-regulatory changes established the key CYC2 function in regulating eudicot flower monosymmetry.

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