DELLA-induced early transcriptional changes during etiolated development in Arabidopsis thaliana

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23918. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023918. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


The hormones gibberellins (GAs) control a wide variety of processes in plants, including stress and developmental responses. This task largely relies on the activity of the DELLA proteins, nuclear-localized transcriptional regulators that do not seem to have DNA binding capacity. The identification of early target genes of DELLA action is key not only to understand how GAs regulate physiological responses, but also to get clues about the molecular mechanisms by which DELLAs regulate gene expression. Here, we have investigated the global, early transcriptional response triggered by the Arabidopsis DELLA protein GAI during skotomorphogenesis, a developmental program tightly regulated by GAs. Our results show that the induction of GAI activity has an almost immediate effect on gene expression. Although this transcriptional regulation is largely mediated by the PIFs and HY5 transcription factors based on target meta-analysis, additional evidence points to other transcription factors that would be directly involved in DELLA regulation of gene expression. First, we have identified cis elements recognized by Dofs and type-B ARRs among the sequences enriched in the promoters of GAI targets; and second, an enrichment in additional cis elements appeared when this analysis was extended to a dataset of early targets of the DELLA protein RGA: CArG boxes, bound by MADS-box proteins, and the E-box CACATG that links the activity of DELLAs to circadian transcriptional regulation. Finally, Gene Ontology analysis highlights the impact of DELLA regulation upon the homeostasis of the GA, auxin, and ethylene pathways, as well as upon pre-existing transcriptional networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Gibberellins / pharmacology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • GAI protein, Arabidopsis
  • Gibberellins