WRINKLED1 (WRI1) is a key transcription factor governing plant oil biosynthesis. We characterized three intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) in Arabidopsis WRI1, and found that one C-terminal IDR of AtWRI1 (IDR3) affects the stability of AtWRI1. Analysis by bimolecular fluorescence complementation and yeast-two-hybrid assays indicated that the IDR3 domain does not determine WRI1 stability by interacting with BTB/POZ-MATH proteins connecting AtWRI1 with CULLIN3-based E3 ligases. Analysis of the WRI1 sequence revealed that a putative PEST motif (proteolytic signal) is located at the C-terminal region of AtWRI1(IDR) (3). We also show that a 91 amino acid domain at the C-terminus of AtWRI1 without the PEST motif is sufficient for transactivation. We found that removal of the PEST motif or mutations in putative phosphorylation sites increased the stability of AtWRI1, and led to increased oil biosynthesis when these constructs were transiently expressed in tobacco leaves. Oil content was also increased in the seeds of stable transgenic wri1-1 plants expressing AtWRI1 with mutations in the IDR3-PEST motif. Taken together, our data suggest that intrinsic disorder of AtWRI1(IDR3) may facilitate exposure of the PEST motif to protein kinases. Thus, phosphorylation of the PEST motif in the AtWRI1(IDR) (3) domain may affect AtWRI1-mediated plant oil biosynthesis. The results obtained here suggest a means to increase accumulation of oils in plant tissues through WRI1 engineering.
Keywords: PEST motif; intrinsically disordered region; phosphorylation; plant oil biosynthesis; protein stability; transcription factor.
© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.