Myb-like transcription factors have epistatic effects on circadian clock function but additive effects on plant growth

Hughes and Harmer 2023, Plant Direct


The functions of closely related Myb-like repressor and Myb-like activator proteins within the plant circadian oscillator have been well-studied as separate groups, but the genetic interactions between them are less clear. We hypothesized that these repressors and activators would interact additively to regulate both circadian and growth phenotypes. We used CRISPR-Cas9 to generate new mutant alleles and performed physiological and molecular characterization of plant mutants for five of these core Myb-like clock factors compared to a repressor mutant and an activator mutant. We first examined circadian clock function in plants likely null for both the repressor proteins, CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) and LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY), and the activator proteins, REVEILLE 4 (RVE4), REVEILLE (RVE6), and REVEILLE (RVE8). The rve468 triple mutant has a long period and flowers late, while cca1 lhy rve468 quintuple mutants, similarly to cca1 lhy mutants, have poor circadian rhythms and flower early. This suggests that CCA1 and LHY are epistatic to RVE4, RVE6, and RVE8 for circadian clock and flowering time function. We next examined hypocotyl elongation and rosette leaf size in these mutants. The cca1 lhy rve468 mutants have growth phenotypes intermediate between cca1 lhy and rve468 mutants, suggesting that CCA1, LHY, RVE4, RVE6, and RVE8 interact additively to regulate growth. Together, our data suggest that these five Myb-like factors interact differently in regulation of the circadian clock versus growth. More generally, the near-normal seedling phenotypes observed in the largely arrhythmic quintuple mutant demonstrate that circadian-regulated output processes, like control of hypocotyl elongation, do not always depend upon rhythmic oscillator function.