The trehalose 6-phosphate pathway impacts vegetative phase change in Arabidopsis thaliana

Plant J. 2020 Nov;104(3):768-780. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14965. Epub 2020 Sep 5.


The vegetative phase change marks the beginning of the adult phase in the life cycle of plants and is associated with a gradual decline in the microRNA miR156, in response to sucrose status. Trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) is a sugar molecule with signaling function reporting the current sucrose state. To elucidate the role of T6P signaling in vegetative phase change, molecular, genetic, and metabolic analyses were performed using Arabidopsis thaliana loss-of-function lines in TREHALOSE PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE1 (TPS1), a gene coding for an enzyme that catalyzes the production of T6P. These lines show a significant delay in vegetative phase change, under both short and long day conditions. Induced expression of TPS1 complements this delay in the TPS1 knockout mutant (tps1-2 GVG::TPS1). Further analyses indicate that the T6P pathway promotes vegetative phase transition by suppressing miR156 expression and thereby modulating the levels of its target transcripts, the SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE genes. TPS1 knockdown plants, with a delayed vegetative phase change phenotype, accumulate significantly more sucrose than wild-type plants as a result of a feedback mechanism. In summary, we conclude that the T6P pathway forms an integral part of an endogenous mechanism that influences phase transitions dependent on the metabolic state.

Keywords: SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE (SPL); TREHALOSE PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE1 (TPS1); age pathway; miR156; trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P); vegetative phase change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Sucrose / metabolism
  • Sugar Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Trehalose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Trehalose / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn156 microRNA, Arabidopsis
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SPL protein, Arabidopsis
  • Sugar Phosphates
  • trehalose-6-phosphate
  • Sucrose
  • Trehalose
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • trehalose-6-phosphate synthase