Rewiring of a KNOXI Regulatory Network Mediated by UFO Underlies the Compound Leaf Development in Medicago truncatula
Published:30 May2024    Source:Nature Communications
Class I KNOTTED-like homeobox (KNOXI) genes are parts of the regulatory network that control the evolutionary diversification of leaf morphology. Their specific spatiotemporal expression patterns in developing leaves correlate with the degrees of leaf complexity between simple-leafed and compound-leafed species. However, KNOXI genes are not involved in compound leaf formation in several legume species.
Here, we identify a pathway for dual repression of MtKNOXI function in Medicago truncatula. PINNATE-LIKE PENTAFOLIATA1 (PINNA1) represses the expression of MtKNOXI, while PINNA1 interacts with MtKNOXI and sequesters it to the cytoplasm. Further investigations reveal that UNUSUAL FLORAL ORGANS (MtUFO) is the direct target of MtKNOXI, and mediates the transition from trifoliate to pinnate-like pentafoliate leaves.
These data suggest a new layer of regulation for morphological diversity in compound-leafed species, in which the conserved regulators of floral development, MtUFO, and leaf development, MtKNOXI, are involved in variation of pinnate-like compound leaves in M. truncatula.