Arabidopsis NAC domain proteins, VND1 to VND5, are transcriptional regulators of secondary wall biosynthesis in vessels

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 22;9(8):e105726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105726. eCollection 2014.


One of the most prominent features of xylem conducting cells is the deposition of secondary walls. In Arabidopsis, secondary wall biosynthesis in the xylem conducting cells, vessels, has been shown to be regulated by two VASCULAR-RELATED NAC-DOMAIN (VND) genes, VND6 and VND7. In this report, we have investigated the roles of five additional Arabidopsis VND genes, VND1 to VND5, in regulating secondary wall biosynthesis in vessels. The VND1 to VND5 genes were shown to be specifically expressed in vessels but not in interfascicular fibers in stems. The expression of VND4 and VND5 was also seen specifically in vessels in the secondary xylem of the root-hypocotyl region. When overexpressed, VND1 to VND5 were able to activate the expression of secondary wall-associated transcription factors and genes involved in secondary wall biosynthesis and programmed cell death. As a result, many normally parenchymatous cells in leaves and stems acquired thickened secondary walls in the VND1 to VND5 overexpressors. In contrast, dominant repression of VND3 function resulted in reduced secondary wall thickening in vessels and a collapsed vessel phenotype. In addition, VND1 to VND5 were shown to be capable of rescuing the secondary wall defects in the fibers of the snd1 nst1 double mutant when expressed under the SND1 promoter. Furthermore, transactivation analysis revealed that VND1 to VND5 could activate expression of the GUS reporter gene driven by the secondary wall NAC binding element (SNBE). Together, these results demonstrate that VND1 to VND5 possess functions similar to that of the SND1 secondary wall NAC and are transcriptional regulators of secondary wall biosynthesis in vessels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Hypocotyl / genetics
  • Hypocotyl / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Xylem / genetics
  • Xylem / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Grant support

This work was supported by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (AFRI Plant Biology program (#2010-65116-20468)) and the National Science Foundation (ISO-1051900). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.