Organization of the TC and TE cT-DNA regions in Nicotiana otophora and functional analysis of three diverged TE-6b genes

Authored by  K Chen*, F Dorlhac de Borne*, N Sierro, NV Ivanov, M Alouia*, S Koechler*, L Otten*

Published in the plant journal    
* This author is not affiliated with PMI.

Nicotiana otophora contains Agrobacterium-derived T-DNA sequences introduced by horizontal gene transfer (Chen et al., 2014). Sixty-nine contigs were assembled into four different cT-DNAs, totalling 83 kb. TC and TE result from two successive transformation events, each followed by duplication, yielding two TC and two TE inserts. TC is also found in other Nicotiana species, whereas TE is unique for N. otophora. Both cT-DNA regions are partially duplicated inverted repeats. Analysis of the cT-DNA divergence patterns allowed reconstruction of the evolution of the TC and TE regions. TC and TE carry ten intact open reading frames. Three of these are TE-6bgenes, derived from a single 6b gene carried by the Agrobacterium strain which inserted TE in the N. otophora ancestor. 6b genes have so far only been found on A. tumefaciens or A. vitis T-DNAs and strongly modify plant growth (Chen and Otten, 2016). The TE-6b genes were expressed in N. tabacum under the constitutive 2x35S promoter. TE-1-6b-R and TE-2-6b led to shorter plants, dark-green leaves, a strong increase in leaf vein development, and modified petiole wings. TE-1-6b-L expression led to a similar phenotype, but in addition, leaves show outgrowths at the margins, flowers were modified and plants became viviparous, i. e. embryos germinated in the capsules at an early stage of their development. Embryos could be rescued by culture in vitro. The TE-6b phenotypes are very different from the earlier described 6bphenotypes and could provide new insight into the mode of action of the 6b genes.