Integrative Comparison of the Role of the PHOSPHATE RESPONSE1 Subfamily in Phosphate Signaling and Homeostasis in Rice

Meina Guo, Wenyuan Ruan, Changying Li, Fangliang Huang, Ming Zeng, Yingyao Liu, Yanan Yu, Xiaomeng Ding, Yunrong Wu, Zhongchang Wu, Chuanzao Mao, Keke Yi, Ping Wu, Xiaorong Mo
Plant Physiology 2015, 168 (4): 1762-76
Phosphorus (P), an essential macronutrient for all living cells, is indispensable for agricultural production. Although Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) PHOSPHATE RESPONSE1 (PHR1) and its orthologs in other species have been shown to function in transcriptional regulation of phosphate (Pi) signaling and Pi homeostasis, an integrative comparison of PHR1-related proteins in rice (Oryza sativa) has not previously been reported. Here, we identified functional redundancy among three PHR1 orthologs in rice (OsPHR1, OsPHR2, and OsPHR3) using phylogenetic and mutation analysis. OsPHR3 in conjunction with OsPHR1 and OsPHR2 function in transcriptional activation of most Pi starvation-induced genes. Loss-of-function mutations in any one of these transcription factors (TFs) impaired root hair growth (primarily root hair elongation). However, these three TFs showed differences in DNA binding affinities and messenger RNA expression patterns in different tissues and growth stages, and transcriptomic analysis revealed differential effects on Pi starvation-induced gene expression of single mutants of the three TFs, indicating some degree of functional diversification. Overexpression of genes encoding any of these TFs resulted in partial constitutive activation of Pi starvation response and led to Pi accumulation in the shoot. Furthermore, unlike OsPHR2-overexpressing lines, which exhibited growth retardation under normal or Pi-deficient conditions, OsPHR3-overexpressing plants exhibited significant tolerance to low-Pi stress but normal growth rates under normal Pi conditions, suggesting that OsPHR3 would be useful for molecular breeding to improve Pi uptake/use efficiency under Pi-deficient conditions. We propose that OsPHR1, OsPHR2, and OsPHR3 form a network and play diverse roles in regulating Pi signaling and homeostasis in rice.

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