Analyses of Catharanthus Roseus and Arabidopsis Thaliana WRKY Transcription Factors Reveal Involvement in Jasmonate Signaling

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Background: To combat infection to biotic stress plants elicit the biosynthesis of numerous natural products, many of which are valuable pharmaceutical compounds. Jasmonate is a central regulator of defense response to pathogens and accumulation of specialized metabolites. Catharanthus roseus produces a large number of terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs) and is an excellent model for understanding the regulation of this class of valuable compounds. Recent work illustrates a possible role for the Catharanthus WRKY transcription factors (TFs) in regulating TIA biosynthesis. In Arabidopsis and other plants, the WRKY TF family is also shown to play important role in controlling tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, as well as secondary metabolism.Results: Here, we describe the WRKY TF families in response to jasmonate in Arabidopsis and Catharanthus. Publically available Arabidopsis microarrays revealed at least 30% (22 of 72) of WRKY TFs respond to jasmonate treatments. Microarray analysis identified at least six jasmonate responsive Arabidopsis WRKY genes (AtWRKY7, AtWRKY20, AtWRKY26, AtWRKY45, AtWRKY48, and AtWRKY72) that have not been previously reported. The Catharanthus WRKY TF family is comprised of at least 48 members. Phylogenetic clustering reveals 11 group I, 32 group II, and 5 group III WRKY TFs. Furthermore, we found that at least 25% (12 of 48) were jasmonate responsive, and 75% (9 of 12) of the jasmonate responsive CrWRKYs are orthologs of AtWRKYs known to be regulated by jasmonate.Conclusion: Overall, the CrWRKY family, ascertained from transcriptome sequences, contains approximately 75% of the number of WRKYs found in other sequenced asterid species (pepper, tomato, potato, and bladderwort). Microarray and transcriptomic data indicate that expression of WRKY TFs in Arabidopsis and Catharanthus are under tight spatio-temporal and developmental control, and potentially have a significant role in jasmonate signaling. Profiling of CrWRKY expression in response to jasmonate treatment revealed potential associations with secondary metabolism. This study provides a foundation for further characterization of WRKY TFs in jasmonate responses and regulation of natural product biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number502
Pages (from-to)502
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 20 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank K. Shen (University of Kentucky) for providing editorial comments and corrections to the manuscript. Funding for C. Schluttenhofer and this work was provided by the Plant and Soil Sciences Department, University of Kentucky.


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis/genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins/physiology
  • Catharanthus/genetics
  • Cyclopentanes/metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins/physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Loci
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxylipins/metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Growth Regulators/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors/physiology
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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