Peer-Reviewed Publications

      Comparative analysis of the Squamosa Promoter Binding-Like (SPL) gene family in Nicotiana benthamiana and Nicotiana tabacum

      De Paola, C.; Garcia-Carpintero, V.; Vazquez-Vilar, M.; Kaminski, K.; Fernandez-del-Carmen, A.; Sierro, N.; Ivanov, N. V.; Giuliano, G.; Waterhouse, P.; Orzaez, D. 

      Jul 17, 2023

      SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING-LIKE (SPL) proteins constitute a large family of transcription factors known to play key roles in growth and developmental processes, including juvenile-to-adult and vegetative-to-reproductive phase transitions. This makes SPLs interesting targets for precision breeding in plants of the Nicotiana genus used as e.g. recombinant biofactories. We report the identification of 49 SPL genes in Nicotiana tabacum cv. K326 and 43 SPL genes in Nicotiana benthamiana LAB strain, which were classified into eight phylogenetic groups according to the SPL classification in Arabidopsis. Exon-intron gene structure and DNA-binding domains were highly conserved between homeologues and orthologues. Thirty of the NbSPL genes and 33 of the NtSPL genes were found to be possible targets of microRNA 156. The expression of SPL genes in leaves was analysed by RNA-seq at three different stages, revealing that genes not under miR156 control were in general constitutively expressed at high levels, whereas miR156-regulated genes showed lower expression, often developmentally regulated. We selected the N. benthamiana SPL13_1a gene as target for a CRISPR/Cas9 knock-out experiment. We show here that a full knock-out in this single gene leads to a significant delay in flowering time, a trait that could be exploited to increase biomass for recombinant protein production.