Developing methods for increasing the biomass and improving the plant architecture is important for crop improvement. We herein describe a gene belonging to the RING_Ubox (RING (Really Interesting New Gene) finger domain and U-box domain) superfamily, PLANT ARCHITECTURE and GRAIN NUMBER 1 (PAGN1), which regulates the number of grains per panicle, the plant height, and the number of tillers. We used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to introduce loss-of-function mutations to OsPAGN1. Compared with the control plants, the resulting pagn1 mutant plants had a higher grain yield because of increases in the plant height and in the number of tillers and grains per panicle. Thus, OsPAGN1 may be useful for the genetic improvement of plant architecture and yield. An examination of evolutionary relationships revealed that OsPAGN1 is highly conserved in rice. We demonstrated that OsPAGN1 can interact directly with OsCNR10 (CELL NUMBER REGULATOR10), which negatively regulates the number of rice grains per panicle. A transcriptome analysis indicated that silencing OsPAGN1 affects the levels of active cytokinins in rice. Therefore, our findings have clarified the OsPAGN1 functions related to rice growth and grain development.
Keywords: RING finger protein; cytokinin; grain yield; plant architecture.