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RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase gene TaAIRP2-1B controls spike length in wheat

Jialing Zhang†, Chaonan Li†, Long Li, Yajun Xi, Jingyi Wang*, Xinguo Mao* and Ruilian Jing*

Journal of Experimental Botany, 2023, IF: 6.9

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erad226


E3 ubiquitin ligase genes play important roles in the regulation of plant development. They have been well studied in plants, but have not been sufficiently investigated in wheat. Here, we identified a highly expressed RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase gene TaAIRP2-1B (ABA-insensitive RING protein 2) in wheat spike. Sequence polymorphism and association analysis showed that TaAIRP2-1B is significantly associated with spike length under various conditions. The genotype with haplotype Hap-1B-1 of TaAIRP2-1B has a longer spike than that of Hap-1B-2, and was positively selected in the process of wheat breeding in China. Moreover, the TaAIRP2-1B-overexpressing rice lines have longer panicles compared with wild-type plants. The expression levels of TaAIRP2-1B in Hap-1B-1 accessions were higher than in Hap-1B-2 accessions. Further study revealed that the expression of TaAIRP2-1B was negatively regulated by TaERF3 (ethylene-responsive factor 3) via binding to the Hap-1B-2 promoter, but not via binding of Hap-1B-1. Additionally, several candidate genes interacting with TaAIRP2-1B were obtained by screening the cDNA library of wheat in yeast cells. It was found that TaAIRP2-1B interacted with TaHIPP3 (heavy metal-associated isoprenylated protein 3) and promoted TaHIPP3 degradation. Our study demonstrates that TaAIRP2-1B controls spike length, and the haplotype Hap-1B-1 of TaAIRP2-1B is a favorable natural variation for spike length enhancement in wheat. This work also provides genetic resources and functional markers for wheat molecular breeding.