Background: The Arabidopsis genome contains 18 genes that are predicted to encode Ovate Family Proteins (AtOFPs), a protein family characterized by a conserved OVATE domain, an approximately 70-amino acid domain that was originally found in tomato OVATE protein. Among AtOFP family members, AtOFP1 has been shown to suppress cell elongation, in part, by suppressing the expression of AtGA20ox1, AtOFP4 has been shown to regulate secondary cell wall formation by interact with KNOTTED1-LIKE HOMEODOMAIN PROTEIN 7 (KNAT7), and AtOFP5 has been shown to regulate the activity of a BEL1-LIKEHOMEODOMAIN 1(BLH1)-KNAT3 complex during early embryo sac development, but little is known about the function of other AtOFPs.
Methodology/principal findings: We demonstrated here that AtOFP proteins could function as effective transcriptional repressors in the Arabidopsis protoplast transient expression system. The analysis of loss-of-function alleles of AtOFPs suggested AtOFP genes may have overlapping function in regulating plant growth and development, because none of the single mutants identified, including T-DNA insertion mutants in AtOFP1, AtOFP4, AtOFP8, AtOFP10, AtOFP15 and AtOFP16, displayed any apparent morphological defects. Further, Atofp1 Atofp4 and Atofp15 Atofp16 double mutants still did not differ significantly from wild-type. On the other hand, plants overexpressing AtOFP genes displayed a number of abnormal phenotypes, which could be categorized into three distinct classes, suggesting that AtOFP genes may also have diverse functions in regulating plant growth and development. Further analysis suggested that AtOFP1 regulates cotyledon development in a postembryonic manner, and global transcript profiling revealed that it suppress the expression of many other genes.
Conclusions/significance: Our results showed that AtOFPs function as transcriptional repressors and they regulate multiple aspects of plant growth and development. These results provided the first overview of a previously unknown transcriptional repressor family, and revealed their possible roles in plant growth and development.