Auxin apical dominance governed by the OsAsp1-OsTIF1 complex determines distinctive rice caryopses development on different branches

PLoS Genet. 2020 Oct 27;16(10):e1009157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009157. eCollection 2020 Oct.


In rice (Oryza sativa), caryopses located on proximal secondary branches (CSBs) have smaller grain size and poorer grain filling than those located on apical primary branches (CPBs), greatly limiting grain yield. However, the molecular mechanism responsible for developmental differences between CPBs and CSBs remains elusive. In this transcriptome-wide expression study, we identified the gene Aspartic Protease 1 (OsAsp1), which reaches an earlier and higher transcriptional peak in CPBs than in CSBs after pollination. Disruption of OsAsp1 expression in the heterozygous T-DNA line asp1-1+/-eliminated developmental differences between CPBs and CSBs. OsAsp1 negatively regulated the transcriptional inhibitor of auxin biosynthesis, OsTAA1 transcriptional inhibition factor 1 (OsTIF1), to preserve indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) apical dominance in CPBs and CSBs. IAA also facilitated OsTIF1 translocation from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the nucleus by releasing the interaction of OsTIF1 with OsAsp1 to regulate caryopses IAA levels via a feedback loop. IAA promoted transcription of OsAsp1 through MADS29 to maintain an OsAsp1 differential between CPBs and CSBs during pollination. Together, these findings provide a mechanistic explanation for the distributed auxin differential between CPBs and CSBs to regulate distinct caryopses development in different rice branches and potential targets for engineering yield improvement in crops.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspartic Acid Proteases / genetics
  • Edible Grain / genetics
  • Edible Grain / growth & development
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Oryza / genetics*
  • Oryza / growth & development
  • Plant Development / genetics
  • Plant Growth Regulators / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Pollination / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • transcriptional intermediary factor 1
  • indoleacetic acid
  • Aspartic Acid Proteases

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2013CB126902) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 30570148 and 31370307). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.