Interspecific complementation-restoration of phenotype in Arabidopsis cuc2cuc3 mutant by sugarcane CUC2 gene

BMC Plant Biol. 2022 Jan 22;22(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12870-022-03440-z.


Background: In plants, a critical balance between differentiation and proliferation of stem cells at the shoot apical meristem zone is essential for proper growth. The spatiotemporal regulation of some crucial genes dictates the formation of a boundary within and around budding organs. The boundary plays a pivotal role in distinguishing one tissue type from another and provides a defined shape to the organs at their developed stage. NAM/CUC subfamily of the NAC transcription factors control the boundary formation during meristematic development.

Results: Here, we have identified the CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (CUC) genes in sugarcane and named SsCUC2 (for the orthologous gene of CUC1 and CUC2) and SsCUC3. The phylogenetic reconstruction showed that SsCUCs occupy the CUC2 and CUC3 clade together with monocots, whereas eudicot CUC2 and CUC3 settled separately in the different clade. The structural analysis of CUC genes showed that most of the CUC3 genes were accompanied by an intron gain during eudicot divergence. Besides, the study of SsCUCs expression in the RNA-seq obtained during different stages of ovule development revealed that SsCUCs express in developing young tissues, and the expression of SsCUC2 is regulated by miR164. We also demonstrate that SsCUC2 (a monocot) could complement the cuc2cuc3 mutant phenotype of Arabidopsis (eudicot).

Conclusions: This study further supports that CUC2 has diverged in CUC1 and CUC2 during the evolution of monocots and eudicots from ancestral plants. The functional analysis of CUC expression patterns during sugarcane ovule development and ectopic expression of SsCUC2 in Arabidopsis showed that SsCUC2 has a conserved role in boundary formation. Overall, these findings improve our understanding of the functions of sugarcane CUC genes. Our results reveal the crucial functional role of CUC genes in sugarcane.

Keywords: CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (CUC); Complementation-restoration; Saccharum spontaneum; cuc2cuc3; organ boundary.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Cotyledon / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Meristem / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Ovule / genetics
  • Ovule / growth & development
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Saccharum / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CUC2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • CUC3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors