Transcriptional and Post-transcriptional Mechanisms Limit Heading Date 1 (Hd1) Function to Adapt Rice to High Latitudes
PLoS Genet. 2017, 13(1):e1006530
Goretti D, Martignago D, Landini M, Brambilla V, Gómez-Ariza J, Gnesutta N, Galbiati F, Collani S, Takagi H, Terauchi R, Mantovani R, Fornara F

Rice flowering is controlled by changes in the photoperiod that promote the transition to the reproductive phase as days become shorter. Natural genetic variation for flowering time has been largely documented and has been instrumental to define the genetics of the photoperiodic pathway, as well as providing valuable material for artificial selection of varieties better adapted to local environments. We mined genetic variation in a collection of rice varieties highly adapted to European regions and isolated distinct variants of the long day repressor HEADING DATE 1 (Hd1) that perturb its expression or protein function. Specific variants allowed us to define novel features of the photoperiodic flowering pathway. We demonstrate that a histone fold domain scaffold formed by GRAIN YIELD, PLANT HEIGHT AND HEADING DATE 8 (Ghd8) and several NF-YC subunits can accommodate distinct proteins, including Hd1 and PSEUDO RESPONSE REGULATOR 37 (PRR37), and that the resulting OsNF-Y complex containing Hd1 can bind a specific sequence in the promoter of HEADING DATE 3A (Hd3a). Artificial selection has locally favored an Hd1 variant unable to assemble in such heterotrimeric complex. The causal polymorphism was defined as a single conserved lysine in the CCT domain of the Hd1 protein. Our results indicate how genetic variation can be stratified and explored at multiple levels, and how its description can contribute to the molecular understanding of basic developmental processes.

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