GmBZL3 acts as a major BR signaling regulator through crosstalk with multiple pathways in Glycine max
Background: Brassinosteroids (BRs) play a crucial role in plant vegetative growth and reproductive development. The transcription factors BZR1 and BES1/BZR2 are well characterized as downstream regulators of the BR signaling pathway in Arabidopsis and rice. Soybean contains four BZR1-like proteins (GmBZLs), and it was reported that GmBZL2 plays a conserved role in BR signaling regulation. However, the roles of other GmBZLs have not been thoroughly studied, and the targets of GmBZLs in soybean remain unclear. Results: In this study, we first characterized GmBZL3 in soybean from gene expression patterns, conserved domains in coding sequences, and genomic replication times of four GmBZL orthologous. The results indicated that GmBZL3 might play conserved roles during soybean development. The overexpression of GmBZL3 P219L in the Arabidopsis BR-insensitive mutant bri1-5 partially rescued the phenotypic defects including BR-insensitivity, which provides further evidence that GmBZL3 functions are conserved between soybean and the homologous Arabidopsis genes. In addition, the identification of the GmBZL3 target genes through ChIP-seq technology revealed that BR has broad roles in soybean and regulates multiple pathways, including other hormone signaling, disease-related, and immunity response pathways. Moreover, the BR-regulated GmBZL3 target genes were further identified, and the results demonstrate that GmBZL3 is a major transcription factor responsible for BR-regulated gene expression and soybean growth. A comparison of GmBZL3 and AtBZR1/BES1 targets demonstrated that GmBZL3 might play conserved as well as specific roles in the soybean BR signaling network. Finally, the identification of two natural soybean varieties of the GmBZL3 mutantion by SNP analysis could facilitate the understanding of gene function during soybean development in the future. Conclusions: We illustrate here that GmBZL3 orchestrates a genome-wide transcriptional response that underlies BR-mediated soybean early vegetative growth, and our results support that BRs play crucial regulatory roles in soybean morphology and gene expression levels.
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