A Roadmap for Gene Regulation in Plants
Published:18 Aug.2023    Source:DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
For the first time, researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a genome-scale way to map the regulatory role of transcription factors, proteins that play a key role in gene expression and determining a plant's physiological traits. Their work reveals unprecedented insights into gene regulatory networks and identifies a new library of DNA parts that can be used to optimize genetic engineering efforts in plants.
Transcription factors regulate things like how plants grow, how much fruit they produce, and what their root architecture looks like. The team set out to develop a method to characterize a large number of transcription factors in a plant simultaneously. They tried to do instead was come up with a way to map the activity of hundreds of these transcription factors in a plant at the same time. They employed a transient expression system they had previously developed for building synthetic biology tools in plants. Here, they used the system to characterize, in parallel, a network of over 400 transcriptional effector domains in the tobacco plant Nicotiana benthamiana.
One surprising aspect of the study was the discovery of similar mechanisms of transcriptional regulation across distantly related eukaryotes. By examining the function of transcription factor regulation in both plants and yeast, the researchers found shared functionality, highlighting the presence of deeply conserved mechanisms of gene regulation.