Functional characterization and analysis of transcriptional regulation of sugar transporter SWEET13c in sugarcane Saccharum spontaneum

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Background: Sugarcane is an important crop for sugar production worldwide. The Sugars Will Eventually be Exported Transporters (SWEETs) are a group of sugar transporters recently identified in sugarcane. In Saccharum spontaneum, SsSWEET13c played a role in the sucrose transportation from the source to the sink tissues, which was found to be mainly active in the mature leaf. However, the function and regulation of SWEETs in sugarcane remain elusive despite extensive studies performed on sugar metabolism. Results: In this study, we showed that SsSWEET13c is a member of SWEET gene family in S. spontaneum, constituting highest circadian rhythm-dependent expression. It is a functional gene that facilitates plant root elongation and increase fresh weight of Arabidopsis thaliana, when overexpressed. Furthermore, yeast one-hybrid assays indicate that 20 potential transcription factors (TFs) could bind to the SsSWEET13c promoter in S. spontaneum. We combined transcriptome data from developmental gradient leaf with distinct times during circadian cycles and stems/leaves at different growth stages. We have uncovered that 14 out of 20 TFs exhibited positive/negative gene expression patterns relative to SsSWEET13c. In the source tissues, SsSWEET13c was mainly positively regulated by SsbHLH34, SsTFIIIA-a, SsMYR2, SsRAP2.4 and SsbHLH035, while negatively regulated by SsABS5, SsTFIIIA-b and SsERF4. During the circadian rhythm, it was noticed that SsSWEET13c was more active in the morning than in the afternoon. It was likely due to the high level of sugar accumulation at night, which was negatively regulated by SsbZIP44, and positively regulated by SsbHLH34. Furthermore, in the sink tissues, SsSWEET13c was also active for sugar accumulation, which was positively regulated by SsbZIP44, SsTFIIIA-b, SsbHLH34 and SsTFIIIA-a, and negatively regulated by SsERF4, SsHB36, SsDEL1 and SsABS5. Our results were further supported by one-to-one yeast hybridization assay which verified that 12 potential TFs could bind to the promoter of SsSWEET13c. Conclusions: A module of the regulatory network was proposed for the SsSWEET13c in the developmental gradient of leaf and circadian rhythm in S. spontaneum. These results provide a novel understanding of the function and regulation of SWEET13c during the sugar transport and biomass production in S. spontaneum.




Hua, X., Shen, Q., Li, Y., Zhou, D., Zhang, Z., Akbar, S., … Zhang, J. (2022). Functional characterization and analysis of transcriptional regulation of sugar transporter SWEET13c in sugarcane Saccharum spontaneum. BMC Plant Biology, 22(1).

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