The homeodomain transcription factor KNAT7 has been reported to be involved in the regulation of secondary cell wall biosynthesis. Previous work suggested that KNAT7 can interact with members of the Ovate Family Protein (OFP) transcription co-regulators. However, it remains unknown whether such an OFP-KNAT7 complex could be involved in the regulation of secondary cell wall biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. We re-tested OFP1 and OFP4 for their abilities to intact with KNAT7 using yeast two-hybrid assays, and verified KNAT7-OFP4 interaction but found only weak interaction between KNAT7 and OFP1. Further, the interaction of KNAT7 with OFP4 appears to be mediated by the KNAT7 homeodomain. We used bimolecular fluorescence complementation to confirm interactions and found that OFP1 and OFP4 both interact with KNAT7 in planta. Using a protoplast transient expression system we showed that KNAT7 as well as OFP1 and OFP4 act as transcriptional repressors. Furthermore, in planta interactions between KNAT7 and both OFP1 and OFP4 enhance KNAT7's transcriptional repression activity. An ofp4 mutant exhibited similar irx and fiber cell wall phenotypes as knat7, and the phenotype of a double ofp4 knat7mutant was similar to those of the single mutants, consistent with the view that KNAT7 and OFP function in a common pathway or complex. Furthermore, the pleiotropic OFP1 and OFP4 overexpression phenotype was suppressed in a knat7 mutant background, suggesting that OFP1 and OFP4 functions depend at least partially on KNAT7 function. We propose that KNAT7 forms a functional complex with OFP proteins to regulate aspects of secondary cell wall formation.
© 2011 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.