The soybean gene GmFWL1 (FW2-2-like1) belongs to a plant-specific family that includes the tomato FW2-2 and the maize CNR1 genes, two regulators of plant development. In soybean, GmFWL1 is specifically expressed in root hair cells in response to rhizobia and in nodules. Silencing of GmFWL1 expression significantly reduced nodule numbers supporting its role during soybean nodulation. While the biological role of GmFWL1 has been described, its molecular function and, more generally, the molecular function of plant FW2-2-like proteins is unknown. In this study, we characterized the role of GmFWL1 as a membrane microdomain-associated protein. Specifically, using biochemical, molecular and cellular methods, our data show that GmFWL1 interacts with various proteins associated with membrane microdomains such as remorin, prohibitins and flotillins. Additionally, comparative genomics revealed that GmFWL1 interacts with GmFLOT2/4 (FLOTILLIN2/4), the soybean ortholog to Medicago truncatula FLOTILLIN4, a major regulator of the M. truncatula nodulation process. We also observed that, similarly to MtFLOT4 and GmFLOT2/4, GmFWL1 was localized at the tip of the soybean root hair cells in response to rhizobial inoculation supporting the early function of GmFWL1 in the rhizobium infection process.
Keywords: FW2-2-like; flotillin; microdomain-associated proteins; nodulation; prohibitin; remorin.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.