An NAC transcription factor controls ethylene-regulated cell expansion in flower petals

Plant Physiol. 2013 Oct;163(2):775-91. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.223388. Epub 2013 Aug 9.


Cell expansion is crucial for plant growth. It is well known that the phytohormone ethylene functions in plant development as a key modulator of cell expansion. However, the role of ethylene in the regulation of this process remains unclear. In this study, 2,189 ethylene-responsive transcripts were identified in rose (Rosa hybrida) petals using transcriptome sequencing and microarray analysis. Among these transcripts, an NAC (for no apical meristem [NAM], Arabidopsis transcription activation factor [ATAF], and cup-shaped cotyledon [CUC])-domain transcription factor gene, RhNAC100, was rapidly and dramatically induced by ethylene in the petals. Interestingly, accumulation of the RhNAC100 transcript was modulated by ethylene via microRNA164-dependent posttranscriptional regulation. Overexpression of RhNAC100 in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) substantially reduced the petal size by repressing petal cell expansion. By contrast, silencing of RhNAC100 in rose petals using virus-induced gene silencing significantly increased petal size and promoted cell expansion in the petal abaxial subepidermis (P < 0.05). Expression analysis showed that 22 out of the 29 cell expansion-related genes tested exhibited changes in expression in RhNAC100-silenced rose petals. Moreover, of those genes, one cellulose synthase and two aquaporin genes (Rosa hybrida Cellulose Synthase2 and R. hybrida Plasma Membrane Intrinsic Protein1;1/2;1) were identified as targets of RhNAC100. Our results suggest that ethylene regulates cell expansion by fine-tuning the microRNA164/RhNAC100 module and also provide new insights into the function of NAC transcription factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Ethylenes / pharmacology*
  • Flowers / cytology*
  • Flowers / drug effects*
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gene Silencing / drug effects
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rosa / cytology*
  • Rosa / drug effects*
  • Rosa / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • Ethylenes
  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • ethylene

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JQ001774
  • GENBANK/JQ001775
  • RefSeq/NP_175997
  • RefSeq/NP_177768
  • RefSeq/NP_187056
  • RefSeq/NP_188135
  • RefSeq/NP_189546
  • RefSeq/NP_197328
  • RefSeq/NP_198777
  • RefSeq/NP_200206
  • RefSeq/NP_200951
  • RefSeq/NP_567811
  • RefSeq/NP_568182