Compositions And Methods For Increasing Cellulose Production

  *US08168861B2*
  US008168861B2                                 
(12)United States Patent(10)Patent No.: US 8,168,861 B2
 Yang et al. (45) Date of Patent:May  1, 2012

(54)Compositions and methods for increasing cellulose production 
    
(75)Inventors: Zhenbiao Yang,  Riverside, CA (US); 
  Stephen Karr,  Camarillo, CA (US) 
(73)Assignee:The Regents of the University of California,  Oakland, CA (US), Type: US Company 
(*)Notice: Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this patent is extended or adjusted under 35 U.S.C. 154(b) by 12 days. 
(21)Appl. No.: 12/624,690 
(22)Filed: Nov.  24, 2009 
(65)Prior Publication Data 
 US 2010/0146672 A1 Jun.  10, 2010 
 Related U.S. Patent Documents 
(60)Provisional application No. 61/117,309, filed on Nov.  24, 2008.
 
(51)Int. Cl. A01H 005/00 (20060101); C12N 015/82 (20060101)
(52)U.S. Cl. 800/284; 435/419; 435/468; 536/23.6
(58)Field of Search  800/284, 278

 
(56)References Cited
 
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 2008//0057093  A1  3/2008    Wan et al.     
 2010//0146669  A1  6/2010    Yang et al.     
 2010//0170006  A1  7/2010    Yang et al.     

 
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  Verica, J.A. et al. “The cell wall-associated kinase (WAK) and WAK-like kinase gene family”, Plant Physiol., 2002, vol. 129, pp. 455-459.
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     * cited by examiner
 
     Primary Examiner —Anne Grunberg
     Assistant Examiner —Lee Visone
     Art Unit — 1638
     Exemplary claim number — 1
 
(74)Attorney, Agent, or Firm — Joseph R. Baker, Jr.; Gavrilovich, Dodd & Lindsey, LLP

(57)

Abstract

This disclosure relates to methods and compositions for genetically altering cellulose biosynthesis.
12 Claims, 16 Drawing Sheets, and 18 Figures


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 from Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/117,309, filed Nov. 24, 2008, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

[0002] The invention was supported by a grant no. DE-FG02-04ER15555 from U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0003] This disclosure relates to methods and compositions for genetically altering cellulose biosynthesis.

BACKGROUND

[0004] Cellulose is a major building block of plant cell walls and provides mechanical strength and rigidity. Wood contains 30 to 50% cellulose, 20 to 30% lignin and 20 to 30% hemicellulose (Higuchi, 1997).
[0005] Production of increased amounts of cellulose in transgenic plants would improve the mechanical strength properties of juvenile wood formed in normal plants. This would be a great benefit to industry because juvenile wood is generally undesirable for solid wood applications because it has inferior mechanical properties.
[0006] Since many of society's fiber, chemical and energy demands are met through the industrial-scale production of cellulose from wood, genetic engineering of the cellulose biosynthesis machinery in plants could produce, for example, higher pulp yields. This would allow greater returns on investment by pulp and paper industries and provide increased cellulosic materials for biofuel production and fermentation processes.

SUMMARY

[0007] The disclosure shows that loss-of-function mutations of SRF6 (At1g53730) and SRF7 (At3g14350) (srf6-1 and srf7-1) reduced cellulose synthase A (CesA) gene expression, had reduced hypocotyl elongation in the dark similar to the CesA6 mutant PROCUSTE1 (prc1-1, At5g64740) and had reduced cellulose deposition as observed by Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy. Other insertional mutants of SRF7 (srf7-2 and srf7-3), which truncate the C-terminus, showed an increase in CesA gene expression that may be caused by the elimination of an auto-inhibitory region and thus generates a constitutively active mutant. Full-length overexpression of SRF7 (35S:SRF7) exhibited increased CesA gene expression and also had increased glycosidic bonds and carbohydrate bonds indicative of increased cellulose. This increase in cellulose production without a deleterious increase in pectin would be of great interest to bioenergy producers interested in cellulolytic ethanol production.
[0008] The disclosure provides a recombinant plant cell comprising a heterologous polynucleotide resulting in overexpression of an SRF-6, SRF-7 or homologs thereof, wherein the recombinant host cell comprises increased cellulose production compared to a wild-type cell. In one embodiment, the recombinant host cell comprises increased cellulose synthase expression (e.g., a CesA). In one embodiment, the heterologous polynucleotide comprises a heterologous regulatory element that increases expression of an SRF-6, SRF-7 or homolog thereof. In yet another embodiment, the heterologous polynucleotide comprises an expression vector comprising SRF-6, SRF-7 or homolog thereof.
[0009] The disclosure also provides use of the recombinant host cell in the production of a plant or tree comprising increased cellulose content compared to a wild-type plant or tree.
[0010] The disclosure also provides a method of producing a transgenic plant comprising growing the plant cell into a plant.
[0011] The disclosure provides a transgenic plant, wherein the plant comprises overexpression of an SRF-6, SRF-7 or homolog thereof, wherein the plant comprises increased cellulose production compared to a wild-type plant. In one embodiment, the plant comprises a tree.
[0012] The disclosure also provides an isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain of an SRF-6 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the polynucleotide comprises a sequence of SEQ ID NO:53.
[0013] The disclosure provides an isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain of an SRF-7 polypeptide (e.g., SEQ ID NO:54).
[0014] The disclosure also provides an isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide lacking all or a fragment of the C-terminal domain of an SRF-6 polypeptide or SRF-7 polypeptide.
[0015] The disclosure provides polypeptides encoded by the polynucleotide above, vectors comprising such polynucleotides and host cells transformed with such polynucleotides and vectors.
[0016] The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1A-B shows A) Gene structure of SRF6 and SRF7 and location of insertional mutations. B) Quantitative analysis of dark-grown hypocotyl growth of SRF knockouts and overexpression mutants. Hypocotyl lengths of SRF knockout, overexpression and combinatorial mutants compared to cellulose synthesis mutants, mur10-2 and prc1-1 and the wild type. Error bars represent the standard deviation and are combined from 3 independent experiments. Student's t-test: *=p<0.05 and +=p<0.01.
[0018] FIG. 2 shows increased resistance to isoxaben of SRF knockout mutants with insertion in the extracellular domain of the receptor-like kinase compared to insertions post transmembrane domain. Both srf6-1 and srf7-1, with insertions in the extracellular domain, show increased resistance to the increasing concentration of the cellulose synthesis inhibitor isoxaben. While, srf6-2 and srf7-3 show increased sensitivity to isoxaben and contain insertions in the c-terminal domains. srf7-2 showed no significant difference in sensitivity compared to the wild type. Data is taken from three independent experiments. Data is from hypocotyl lengths relative to wild type plants grown on the same plate and relative to mutants grown on DMSO control media. Student's t-test: *=p<0.05.
[0019] FIG. 3 shows isoxaben affects on the hypocotyls growth of combinatorial and overexpression mutants of SRF. The dominant negative of SRF7 exhibits increased resistance to low levels of isoxaben (0.5 and 1 nM) but increase sensitivity at higher levels (5 and 10 nM). Expression of DN-SRF7 in srf7-1 mutants shows some resistance to isoxaben at higher levels but is less than that of just srf7-1 alone. Overexpression of SRF7 and overexpression of SRF7 in srf7-1 do not show any change in sensitivity compared to the wild type. Data is taken from three independent experiments. Data is from hypocotyl lengths relative to wild type plants grown on the same plate and relative to mutants grown on DMSO control media. Student's t-test: *=p<0.05.
[0020] FIG. 4 shows quantitative real-time PCR analysis of gene expression levels of SRF6 for SRF mutants compared to wild type gene expression in dark treated 4-day-old seedlings grown on 0% sucrose MS media. Four-day-old dark treated plants were first cold treated (4° C.) for 4-days before harvesting and RNA isolation. This tissue was pooled from three different plates. Data analysis was done using three independent Ct values for each measurement. The delta delta Ct method was used for comparison of mutant SRF gene expression compared to wild type gene expression and comparison of mutant ACTIN2 gene expression compared to wild type ACTIN2 gene expression. ##=no detectible expression of SRF6.
[0021] FIG. 5 shows quantitative real-time PCR analysis of gene expression levels of SRF7 for SRF mutants compared to wild type gene expression in dark treated 4-day-old seedlings grown on 0% sucrose MS media. Four-day-old dark treated plants were first cold treated (4° C.) for 4-days before harvesting and RNA isolation. This tissue was pooled from three different plates. Data analysis was done using three independent Ct values for each measurement. The delta delta Ct method was used for comparison of mutant SRF gene expression compared to wild type gene expression and comparison of mutant ACTIN2 gene expression compared to wild type ACTIN2 gene expression. ##=no detectible expression of SRF7. @@=p-value<0.001.
[0022] FIG. 6 shows quantitative real-time PCR analysis of gene expression levels of CesA3 for SRF mutants compared to wild type gene expression in dark treated 4-day-old seedlings grown on 0% sucrose MS media. Four-day-old dark treated plants were first cold treated (4° C.) for 4-days before harvesting and RNA isolation. This tissue was pooled from three different plates. Data analysis was done using three independent Ct values for each measurement. The delta delta Ct method was used for comparison of mutant CesA3 gene expression compared to wild type gene expression and comparison of mutant ACTIN2 gene expression compared to wild type ACTIN2 gene expression. *=p-value<0.05.
[0023] FIG. 7 shows quantitative real-time PCR analysis of gene expression levels of CesA4 for SRF mutants compared to wild type gene expression in dark treated 4-day-old seedlings grown on 0% sucrose MS media. Four-day-old dark treated plants were first cold treated (4° C.) for 4-days before harvesting and RNA isolation. This tissue was pooled from three different plates. Data analysis was done using three independent Ct values for each measurement. The delta delta Ct method was used for comparison of mutant CesA4 gene expression compared to wild type gene expression and comparison of mutant ACTIN2 gene expression compared to wild type ACTIN2 gene expression. *=p-value<0.05.
[0024] FIG. 8 shows and example of FT-IR data before and after baseline correction and normalization.
[0025] FIG. 9 shows a principal component analysis (PCA) for srf7-1, DN-srf7 and wild type. Baseline corrected and normalized data was used for the PCA, using SAS software.
[0026] FIG. 10A-D shows gene expression data from the diurnal experiment (A and C) and isoxaben experiment (B and D), looking at either RLK (A and B) or cellulose synthase A (C and D) gene expression. Data was obtained from the Genevestigator database using the digital northern tool.
[0027] FIGS. 11A-E show an alignment of SRFs and a relationship diagram (an SRF-6 (SEQ ID NO:2) and -7 (SEQ ID NO:4) are shows in FIGS. 11A-B along with SFR1A′-SEQ ID NO:6; SRF1A-SEQ ID NO:8; SRF3-SEQ ID NO:16; SRF2-SEQ ID NO:14; SRF4-SEQ ID NO:18; SRF5-SEQ ID NO:20; SRF8-SEQ ID NO:26; SUB-SEQ ID NO:51). SRFs-6 and -7 and related homologs are shows in FIGS. 11C-D, SEQ ID NO:6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0028] As used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “and,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to “a probe” includes a plurality of such probes and reference to “the primer” includes reference to one or more primers and equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.
[0029] Also, the use of “or” means “and/or” unless stated otherwise. Similarly, “comprise,” “comprises,” “comprising” “include,” “includes,” and “including” are interchangeable and not intended to be limiting.
[0030] It is to be further understood that where descriptions of various embodiments use the term “comprising,” those skilled in the art would understand that in some specific instances, an embodiment can be alternatively described using language “consisting essentially of” or “consisting of:”
[0031] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Although any methods and reagents similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice of the disclosed methods and compositions, the exemplary methods and materials are now described.
[0032] All publications mentioned herein are incorporated herein by reference in full for the purpose of describing and disclosing the methodologies, which are described in the publications, which might be used in connection with the description herein. The publications discussed above and throughout the text are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior disclosure.
[0033] Plant biomass represents a useful and valuable resource as a fermentation substrate for highly valuable organic fuels and chemicals. Plant biomass generally consists of about 25% lignin and about 75% carbohydrate polymers including cellulose and hemicellulose. The latter represents one fifth to one half of the total carbohydrates in the biomass. Cellulose is a heteropolymer of hexose and pentose sugars, with glucose and xylose as two major constituents.
[0034] Cellulose synthesis is a critical process in plants for both the structural integrity of the developing cell and also for the overall structure and rigidity of the plant. The mechanisms underlying the synthesis of cellulose are becoming clearer but the regulation of this important process remains unknown.
[0035] Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on earth. It is an integral component of the plant cell wall and is responsible for most of the rigidity and strength of the cell. Cellulose is currently being investigated as a new fuel source. Because of its chemical structure, a polymer of β-linked glucose residues, cellulose would make an excellent feedstock for ethanol production, which may relieve some of the pressure of dwindling fossil fuel sources. One of the current limitations to cellulolytic ethanol production, ethanol produced from the conversion of cellulose to simple sugars that are then fermented, is a supply of cellulose dense organic matter that is also low in pectins and lignins. These two components of the plant cell wall act as additional “glues” that bind the cellulose together forming a stronger cell wall (Bonnetta et al., 2002). But these act as contaminants in ethanol production and reduce the yield of cellulose from plant tissue. One way to avoid this is to engineer plants that produced less lignin and pectins. The disclosure also provides a method to produce more cellulose per cell. The polynucleotides of the disclosure that produce more cellulose are from a superfamily of genes called receptor-like kinases (RLKs). The superfamily of RLKs consists of over 600 genes; many of these are of unknown function (Shiu and Bleecker, 2001).
[0036] Cellulose synthesis is a complex chemical and mechanical process. The proteins involved in primary and secondary cell wall synthesis are becoming clearer, for a review see (Fagard et al., 2000; Bosca et al., 2006; Desprez et al., 2007; Presson et al., 2007). There are no RLKs that have been shown to positively affect cellulose synthesis, that is until now.
[0037] The function of these genes in this large gene family was evaluated using an approach whereby a dominant negative (DN) form of the receptor was used to help elucidate the gene's subfamily function. In this process a DN-RLK transgenic plant was generated with unusually large leaves and when examined further, larger epidermal cells were identified. With further investigation into these genes, members of the Strubbelig Receptor Family (SRF) were identified.
[0038] The Strubbelig Receptor Family (SRF) contains nine subfamily members and belongs to the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) class of receptor-like kinases (Eyüboglu et al., 2007). It has been reported that SRF4 was a positive regulator of leaf size, and that the Strubbelig Receptor Family is characterized by functional diversity when reverse genetics and bioinformatic data mining was used to determine the functions of this receptor gene family (Eyüboglu et al., 2007). SRF7 can play a role in cell wall biology by the observations that DN-srf7 mutants showed an enlargement in leaf size and an increase in epidermal cell size. These observations led to independent examination the genome-wide expression data found on the Genevestigator (https:˜˜www.genevestigator.ethz.ch) and the ATTED-II (http:˜˜www.atted.bio.titech.ac.jp) websites to examine the coexpression of all genes to SRF6 and SRF7. SRF6 and SRF7 were coexpressed with many of the cellulose synthase A (CesA) genes.
[0039] The disclosure demonstrates that two members of the Strubbelig Receptor Family are not only coexpressed with cell wall synthesis genes but also have similar dark grown phenotypes to mutants affected in cellulose synthesis as well as altered CesA gene expression. Knockout mutants of SRF6 and SRF7 have shorter dark grown hypocotyls similar to the primary cell wall cellulose synthase CesA6 (prc1-1). Using FT-IR microspectroscopy and Real-Time RT-PCR there was a coordinate relationship of CesA3 and CesA4 gene expression and the amount of cellulose specific bonding. The overexpression of SRF7 demonstrated a large increase in CesA3 and CesA4 gene expression and also in cellulose composition. This may be due to the ectopic expression of secondary cell wall synthesis in epidermal cells that would under normal conditions only have primary cell walls, as the SRF7 gene is driven under the 35S constitutive promoter from the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV). The increase in cellulose and CesA3 or CesA4 gene expression do not alter the reproductive success or biomass of the SRF7 overexpressing lines and there are many plant species with homologs to SRF7, this makes it an exceptional candidate for increasing the cellulose content in future cellulolitic feedstock plants.
[0040] The disclosure provides methods and compositions for increasing cellulose content and biomass of a plant or cellulose producing microorganism. The method includes transforming a plant cell or host cell with a vector the increase expression of a SRF-6 and/or SRF-7 polynucleotide or homolog thereof or comprising transforming a plant or microorganism with a mutant SRF-6 or SRF-7 that encodes a truncated SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide the promotes increased expression of a cellulase synthase gene.
[0041] A cellulose promoting polypeptide of the disclosure includes SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide as well as homologs thereof (collectively referred to herein as SRF-6 or -7 polypeptides, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise). Thus, an SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide comprises any of the polypeptides of SEQ ID NOs:2 or 4. In addition, based upon the alignment of the sequence set forth FIG. 11, one of skill in the art can readily generate polypeptides having at least 1-50 (e.g., 1-40, 1-30, 1-20, or 1-10) conservative amino acid substitutions and encoding a polypeptide that promotes increase cellulosic production in a plant.
[0042] Furthermore, the disclosure provides SRF-6 or SRF-7 polypeptides having at least 58, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 98, or 99% identity to any of the SRF polypeptide set forth in FIG. 11 and having the ability to increase cellulosic material production in a plant. One of skill in the art can readily generate polynucleotides encoding the polypeptide of any of the foregoing using skill available in the art (e.g., molecule biology cloning strategies) and with reference to SEQ ID NO:1 and 3.
[0043] The disclosure demonstrates that Strubbelig Receptor Family (SRF) 6 and 7 (or homologs or variants thereof) control cellulose synthase A (CesA) gene expression and affects cellulose deposition and quantity.
[0044] Cellulose synthesis is a critical process in plants for both the structural integrity of the developing cell and also for the overall structure and rigidity of the plant. The disclosure shows that loss-of-function mutations of SRF6 (At1g53730) and SRF7 (At3g14350) (srf6-1 and srf7-1) reduced cellulose synthase A (CesA) gene expression, had reduced hypocotyl elongation in the dark similar to the CesA6 mutant PROCUSTE1 (prc1-1, At5g64740) and had reduced cellulose deposition as observed by Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy. Other insertional mutants of SRF7 (srf7-2 and srf7-3), which truncate the C-terminus, showed an increase in CesA gene expression that may be caused by the elimination of an auto-inhibitory region and thus generates a constitutively active mutant. Full-length overexpression of SRF7 (35S:SRF7) exhibited increased CesA gene expression and also had increased glycosidic bonds and carbohydrate bonds indicative of increased cellulose. This increase in cellulose production without a deleterious increase in pectin would be of great interest to bioenergy producers interested in cellulolytic ethanol production.
[0045] The SRF family of polypeptides whose sequences are set forth in the accession numbers below are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety:
[0046] 
[00001] [TABLE-US-00001]
   
    Gene   Agi Code   GenBank Accession No.
   
    SUB (SRF9)   At1g11130   AF399923
    SRF1A   (Col) At2g20850   AY518286
    SRF1B   Col DQ914918
    SRF1A   Ler DQ914919
    SRF1B   Ler DQ914920
    SRF2   At5g06820   AY518287
    SRF3   At4g03390   AY518288
    SRF4   At3g13065   AY518289
    SRF5   At1g78980   AY518290
    SRF6   At1g53730   AY518291
    SRF7   At3g14350   AY518292
    SRF8   At4g22130   AY518293
   

Homologs and variants of the above references sequences can be identified using available databases in the art without out due effort.
[0047] Based on the aforementioned findings, the disclosure provides DNA whose expression varies during plant cell wall component biosynthesis and wood fiber cell morphogenesis.
[0048] The disclosure provides methods and compositions for generating increased cellulose material in plants. The methods include increasing the expression of a SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide or homolog thereof or transforming a plant cell with a mutant SRF-6 or -7 lacking a C-terminal portion of the polypeptide. The disclosure also provides transgenic plants that overexpress an SRF-6 and/or SRF-7 or a homolog thereof or which express a mutant SRF-6 or SRF-7, wherein the transgenic plant produces an increased amount of cellulose compared to a wild-type plant.
[0049] The disclosure provides recombinant host cells and transgenic plants that comprise a modified expression of an SRF6 and/or SRF7 or homolog thereof wherein the host cell comprises increased expression of cellulose synthase genes and wherein the transgenic plant comprise increased cellulose content compared to a plant (e.g., a plant of the same parental species) lacking a change in SRF6, SRF7 or homolog thereof expression.
[0050] As used herein, the terms “host cells” and “recombinant host cells” are used interchangeably and refer to cells (for example, plant cells) into which the compositions of the presently disclosed subject matter (for example, an expression vector comprising an SRF6, or -7 polynucleotide or homolog thereof) can be introduced. Furthermore, the terms refer not only to the particular plant cell into which an expression construct is initially introduced, but also to the progeny or potential progeny of such a cell. Because certain modifications can occur in succeeding generations due to either mutation or environmental influences, such progeny might not, in fact, be identical to the parent cell, but are still included within the scope of the term as used herein.
[0051] An example of a useful polynucleotide for production of cellulosic material comprises an SRF-6 or -7 polynucleotide, variants, mutants and fragment thereof, wherein the variants, mutants and fragments stimulate CesA gene expression. An SRF-6 or -7 polynucleotide includes homologs and variants that are capable of hybridization under stringent conditions with a DNA consisting of a nucleotide sequence described in GenBank accession no. AY518291 or GenBank accession no. AY518292. Stringent hybridization conditions comprise allowing to stand overnight at 60° C. in 0.1×SSC solution, or conditions yielding stringencies similar to these. Useful fragments of SRF-6 or -7 includes those lacking a function C-terminal end of the wild-type polypeptide.
[0052] Also contemplated by the disclosure are transgenic plants overexpressing an SRF-6 or -7 polynucleotide present in the organisms genome wherein the SRF-6 or -7 is operably linked to a heterologous promoter (e.g., a tissue specific, constitutive or inducible promoter).
[0053] In addition, the disclosure contemplates a polynucleotide that encodes an polypeptide that induces expression of CesA polypeptides. In one embodiment, the polynucleotide encodes a polypeptide comprising at least 50% identity to an SRF-6 or -7. In another embodiment, the polynucleotide encodes a mutant SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide lacking a function C-terminal portion of SRF-6 or -7.
[0054] Homologs of an SRF-6 or -7 can be identified and isolated using techniques known in the art including, for example, hybridization reactions to isolate such DNAs under stringent conditions. Stringent hybridization conditions can include, for example, conditions such as 6 M urea, 0.4% SDS, and 0.5×SSC, and those conditions yielding similar stringencies to these. DNAs with higher homology are expected to be isolated when hybridization is performed under more stringent conditions, for example, 6 M urea, 0.4% SDS, and 0.1×SSC. DNAs thus isolated are thought to have high homology, at an amino acid level, with amino acid sequences encoded by DNAs that hybridize under stringent conditions to DNAs comprising any one of the nucleotide sequences described in Genbank accession no. AY518291 or GenBank accession no. AY518292. Herein, high homology means an identity over the entire amino acid sequence of at least 50% or above, more preferably 70% or above, even more preferably 80% or above, still more preferably 90% or above, even still more preferably 95% or above, and most preferably 98% or above. Such DNAs comprise degenerative variants of the DNAs that hybridize under stringent conditions with the DNAs an SRF-6 or -7 as set forth in Genbank accession no. AY518291 or GenBank accession no. AY518292.
[0055] Useful variants of an SRF-6 or -7 can be identified by introducing mutations by site-directed mutagenesis, directed evolution, shuffling, and the like (Kramer, W. & Fritz, H J., Methods Enzymol, 1987, 154, 350). The mutant polynucleotide can then be screened to determine if it modulates cesA expression, wherein an increase in CesA is indicative that the mutant SFR-6 or -7 can promote cellulose formation.
[0056] An SRF-6 or -7 polynucleotide or homolog thereof refers to a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO:1 or 3, polynucleotide having at least 80%, 90%, 95%, 98% or 99% identity to a sequence consisting of SEQ ID NO:1 or 3, fragments of the foregoing wherein the fragments encode a polypeptide that promotes cellulase synthase expression, polynucleotide that are complementary to any of the foregoing and polynucleotides that comprise a U instead of T in their sequence.
[0057] Polynucleotides useful in the methods of the disclosure include naturally occurring polynucleotides, recombinant polynucleotides and chemically synthesized polynucleotides. There is no particular limitation on the type of polynucleotides of the disclosure so long as they are capable of encoding polypeptides useful for modulating cellulose production (e.g., through modulating expression of cesA) and include genomic DNA, cDNA, chemically synthesized DNA, and the like. Genomic DNAs may be prepared by conducting PCR (Saiki et al., Science, 1988, 239, 487) using as a template genomic DNA prepared according to a method described in literature (Rogers and Bendich, Plant Mol. Biol., 1985, 5, 69) and primers prepared based on a nucleotide sequence of a polynucleotide of the disclosure (e.g. a nucleotide sequence set forth in accession nos. AY518291 or GenBank accession no. AY518292). Furthermore, cDNA may be prepared according to the standard method (Maniatis et al., “Molecular Cloning”, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press), by preparing mRNA from plants, performing reverse transcription, and conducting PCR using primers similar to those described above. Genomic DNA and cDNA may also be prepared by constructing a genomic DNA library or a cDNA library according to the standard method, and screening this library using a probe, for example, one synthesized based on the a nucleotide sequence of a DNA of the disclosure. The DNA thus obtained may be easily sequenced using, for example, the “Sequencer Model 373” (ABI).
[0058] As used herein, the terms “complementarity” and “complementary” refer to a nucleic acid that can form one or more hydrogen bonds with another nucleic acid sequence by either traditional Watson-Crick or other non-traditional types of interactions. In reference to the nucleic molecules of the presently disclosed subject matter, the binding free energy for a nucleic acid molecule with its complementary sequence is sufficient to allow the relevant function of the nucleic acid to proceed, in some embodiments, ribonuclease activity. Determination of binding free energies for nucleic acid molecules is well known in the art. See e.g., Freier et al., 1986; Turner et al., 1987.
[0059] As used herein, the phrase “percent complementarity” refers to the percentage of contiguous residues in a nucleic acid molecule that can form hydrogen bonds (e.g., Watson-Crick base pairing) with a second nucleic acid sequence (e.g., 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, out of 10 being 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100% complementary). The terms “100% complementary”, “fully complementary”, and “perfectly complementary” indicate that all of the contiguous residues of a nucleic acid sequence can hydrogen bond with the same number of contiguous residues in a second nucleic acid sequence.
[0060] As used herein, the term “gene” refers to a nucleic acid sequence that encodes an RNA. The term “gene” also refers broadly to any segment of DNA associated with a biological function. As such, the term “gene” encompasses sequences including, but not limited to, a coding sequence, a promoter region, a transcriptional regulatory sequence, a non-expressed DNA segment that is a specific recognition sequence for regulatory proteins, a non-expressed DNA segment that contributes to gene expression, a DNA segment designed to have desired parameters, or combinations thereof. A gene can be obtained by a variety of methods, including cloning from a biological sample, synthesis based on known or predicted sequence information, and recombinant derivation from one or more existing sequences.
[0061] As is understood in the art, a gene typically comprises a coding strand and a non-coding strand. As used herein, the terms “coding strand” and “sense strand” are used interchangeably, and refer to a nucleic acid sequence that has the same sequence of nucleotides as an mRNA from which the gene product is translated. As is also understood in the art, when the coding strand and/or sense strand is used to refer to a DNA molecule, the coding/sense strand includes thymidine residues instead of the uridine residues found in the corresponding mRNA. Additionally, when used to refer to a DNA molecule, the coding/sense strand can also include additional elements not found in the mRNA including, but not limited to promoters, enhancers, and introns. Similarly, the terms “template strand” and “antisense strand” are used interchangeably and refer to a nucleic acid sequence that is complementary to the coding/sense strand.
[0062] The phrase “gene expression” generally refers to the cellular processes by which a biologically active polypeptide is produced from a DNA sequence and exhibits a biological activity in a cell. As such, gene expression involves the processes of transcription and translation, but also involves post-transcriptional and post-translational processes that can influence a biological activity of a gene or gene product. These processes include, but are not limited to RNA syntheses, processing, and transport, as well as polypeptide synthesis, transport, and post-translational modification of polypeptides. Additionally, processes that affect protein-protein interactions within the cell can also affect gene expression as defined herein.
[0063] The terms “heterologous gene”, “heterologous DNA sequence”, “heterologous nucleotide sequence”, “exogenous nucleic acid molecule”, “exogenous DNA segment”, and “transgene” as used herein refer to a sequence that originates from a source foreign to an intended host cell or, if from the same source, is modified from its original form. Thus, a heterologous gene in a host cell includes a gene that is endogenous to the particular host cell but has been modified, for example by mutagenesis or by isolation from native transcriptional regulatory sequences. The terms also include non-naturally occurring multiple copies of a naturally occurring nucleotide sequence. Thus, the terms refer to a DNA segment that is foreign or heterologous to the cell, or homologous to the cell but in a position within the host cell nucleic acid wherein the element is not ordinarily found. A transgenic plant or host cell can comprise, for example, a heterologous promoter the promotes transcription of an SRF-6 or -7, or homologs thereof in a desired plant cell or host cell.
[0064] As used herein, the term “isolated” refers to a molecule substantially free of other nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and/or other materials with which it is normally associated, such association being either in cellular material or in a synthesis medium. Thus, the term “isolated polynucleotide” or “isolated nucleic acid” refers to a ribonucleic acid molecule or a deoxyribonucleic acid molecule (for example, a genomic DNA, cDNA, mRNA, and the like) of natural or synthetic origin or some combination thereof, which (1) is not associated with the cell in which the “isolated polynucleotide” is found in nature, or (2) is operatively linked to a polynucleotide to which it is not linked in nature. Similarly, the term “isolated polypeptide” refers to a polypeptide, in some embodiments prepared from recombinant DNA or RNA, or of synthetic origin, or some combination thereof, which (1) is not associated with proteins that it is normally found with in nature, (2) is isolated from the cell in which it normally occurs, (3) is isolated free of other proteins from the same cellular source, (4) is expressed by a cell from a different species, or (5) does not occur in nature.
[0065] The term “isolated”, when used in the context of an “isolated cell”, refers to a cell that has been removed from its natural environment, for example, as a part of an organ, tissue, or organism.
[0066] As used herein, the term “modulate” refers to an increase, decrease, or other alteration of any, or all, chemical and biological activities or properties of a biochemical entity, e.g., a wild type or mutant nucleic acid molecule. For example, the term “modulate” can refer to a change in the expression level of a gene or a level of an RNA molecule or equivalent RNA molecules encoding one or more proteins or protein subunits; or to an activity of one or more proteins or protein subunits that is upregulated or downregulated, such that expression, level, or activity is greater than or less than that observed in the absence of the modulator. For example, the term “modulate” can mean “increasing” or “promoting”, but the use of the word “modulate” is not limited to this definition.
[0067] The term “naturally occurring”, as applied to an object, refers to the fact that an object can be found in nature. For example, a polypeptide or polynucleotide sequence that is present in an organism (including bacteria) that can be isolated from a source in nature and which has not been intentionally modified by man in the laboratory is naturally occurring. It must be understood, however, that any manipulation by the hand of man can render a “naturally occurring” object an “isolated” object as that term is used herein.
[0068] As used herein, the terms “polynucleotide” or “nucleic acid molecule” refer to any of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), oligonucleotides, fragments generated by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and fragments generated by any of ligation, scission, endonuclease action, and exonuclease action. Nucleic acids can be composed of monomers that are naturally occurring nucleotides (such as deoxyribonucleotides and ribonucleotides), or analogs of naturally occurring nucleotides (e.g., alpha-enantiomeric forms of naturally occurring nucleotides), or a combination of both. Modified nucleotides can have modifications in sugar moieties and/or in pyrimidine or purine base moieties. Sugar modifications include, for example, replacement of one or more hydroxyl groups with halogens, alkyl groups, amines, and azido groups, or sugars can be functionalized as ethers or esters. Moreover, the entire sugar moiety can be replaced with sterically and electronically similar structures, such as aza-sugars and carbocyclic sugar analogs. Examples of modifications in a base moiety include alkylated purines and pyrimidines, acylated purines or pyrimidines, or other well-known heterocyclic substitutes. Nucleic acid monomers can be linked by phosphodiester bonds or analogs of such linkages. Analogs of phosphodiester linkages include phosphorothioate, phosphorodithioate, phosphoroselenoate, phosphorodiselenoate, phosphoroanilothioate, phosphoranilidate, phosphoramidate, and the like. The term also includes so-called “peptide nucleic acids”, which comprise naturally occurring or modified nucleic acid bases attached to a polyamide backbone. Nucleic acids can be either single stranded or double stranded.
[0069] The terms “operably linked” and “operatively linked” are used interchangeably. When describing the relationship between two nucleic acid regions, each term refers to a juxtaposition wherein the regions are in a relationship permitting them to function in their intended manner. For example, a control sequence “operably linked” to a coding sequence can be ligated in such a way that expression of the coding sequence is achieved under conditions compatible with the control sequences, such as when the appropriate molecules (e.g., inducers and polymerases) are bound to the control or regulatory sequence(s). Thus, in some embodiments, the phrase “operably linked” refers to a promoter connected to a coding sequence in such a way that the transcription of that coding sequence is controlled and regulated by that promoter. Techniques for operably linking a promoter to a coding sequence are well known in the art; the precise orientation and location relative to a coding sequence of interest is dependent, inter alia, upon the specific nature of the promoter.
[0070] Thus, the term “operably linked” can refer to a promoter region that is connected to a nucleic acid sequence in such a way that the transcription of that nucleic acid sequence is controlled and regulated by that promoter region. Similarly, a nucleic acid sequence is said to be under the “transcriptional control” of a promoter to which it is operably linked. Techniques for operably linking a promoter region to a nucleotide sequence are known in the art. In some embodiments, a nucleotide sequence comprises a coding sequence and/or an open reading frame. The term “operably linked” can also refer to a transcription termination sequence that is connected to a nucleotide sequence in such a way that termination of transcription of that nucleotide sequence is controlled by that transcription termination sequence. For example, the disclosure provides vectors and host cells comprising an SRF-6 and/or -7 (or homolog thereof) polynucleotide operably linked to a promoter for expression (e.g., overexpression) of the polynucleotide in the plant or cell.
[0071] In some embodiments, more than one of these elements can be operably linked in a single molecule. Thus, in some embodiments multiple terminators, coding sequences, and promoters can be operably linked together. Techniques are known to one of ordinary skill in the art that would allow for the generation of nucleic acid molecules that comprise different combinations of coding sequences and/or regulatory elements that would function to allow for the expression of one or more nucleic acid sequences in a cell.
[0072] The term “regulatory sequence” is a generic term used throughout the specification to refer to polynucleotide sequences, such as initiation signals, enhancers, regulators, promoters, and termination sequences, which are necessary or desirable to affect the expression of coding and non-coding sequences to which they are operatively linked. Exemplary regulatory sequences are described in Goeddel, 1990, and include, for example, the early and late promoters of simian virus 40 (SV40), adenovirus or cytomegalovirus immediate early promoter, the lac system, the trp system, the TAC or TRC system, T7 promoter whose expression is directed by T7 RNA polymerase, the major operator and promoter regions of phage lambda, the control regions for fd coat protein, the promoter for 3-phosphoglycerate kinase or other glycolytic enzymes, the promoters of acid phosphatase, e.g., Pho5, the promoters of the yeast a-mating factors, the polyhedron promoter of the baculovirus system and other sequences known to control the expression of genes of prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells or their viruses, and various combinations thereof. The nature and use of such control sequences can differ depending upon the host organism. In prokaryotes, such regulatory sequences generally include promoter, ribosomal binding site, and transcription termination sequences. The term “regulatory sequence” is intended to include, at a minimum, components the presence of which can influence expression, and can also include additional components the presence of which is advantageous, for example, leader sequences and fusion partner sequences.
[0073] In some embodiments, transcription of a polynucleotide sequence is under the control of a promoter sequence (or other regulatory sequence) that controls the expression of the polynucleotide in a cell-type in which expression is intended. It will also be understood that the polynucleotide can be under the control of regulatory sequences that are the same or different from those sequences which control expression of the naturally occurring form of the polynucleotide. As used herein, the phrase “functional derivative” refers to a subsequence of a promoter or other regulatory element that has substantially the same activity as the full length sequence from which it was derived. As such, a “functional derivative” of a seed-specific promoter can itself function as a seed-specific promoter.
[0074] Termination of transcription of a polynucleotide sequence is typically regulated by an operatively linked transcription termination sequence (for example, an RNA polymerase III termination sequence). In certain instances, transcriptional terminators are also responsible for correct mRNA polyadenylation. The 3′ non-transcribed regulatory DNA sequence includes in some embodiments about 50 to about 1,000, and in some embodiments about 100 to about 1,000, nucleotide base pairs and contains plant transcriptional and translational termination sequences. Appropriate transcriptional terminators and those that are known to function in plants include the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S terminator, the tml terminator, the nopaline synthase terminator, the pea rbcS E9 terminator, the terminator for the T7 transcript from the octopine synthase gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and the 3′ end of the protease inhibitor I or II genes from potato or tomato, although other 3′ elements known to those of skill in the art can also be employed. Alternatively, a gamma coixin, oleosin 3, or other terminator from the genus Coix can be used.
[0075] The term “promoter” or “promoter region” each refers to a nucleotide sequence within a gene that is positioned 5′ to a coding sequence and functions to direct transcription of the coding sequence. The promoter region comprises a transcriptional start site, and can additionally include one or more transcriptional regulatory elements. In some embodiments, a method of the presently disclosed subject matter employs a RNA polymerase III promoter.
[0076] A “minimal promoter” is a nucleotide sequence that has the minimal elements required to enable basal level transcription to occur. As such, minimal promoters are not complete promoters but rather are subsequences of promoters that are capable of directing a basal level of transcription of a reporter construct in an experimental system. Minimal promoters are often augmented with one or more transcriptional regulatory elements to influence the transcription of an operatively linked gene. For example, cell-type-specific or tissue-specific transcriptional regulatory elements can be added to minimal promoters to create recombinant promoters that direct transcription of an operatively linked nucleotide sequence in a cell-type-specific or tissue-specific manner.
[0077] Different promoters have different combinations of transcriptional regulatory elements. Whether or not a gene is expressed in a cell is dependent on a combination of the particular transcriptional regulatory elements that make up the gene's promoter and the different transcription factors that are present within the nucleus of the cell. As such, promoters are often classified as “constitutive”, “tissue-specific”, “cell-type-specific”, or “inducible”, depending on their functional activities in vivo or in vitro. For example, a constitutive promoter is one that is capable of directing transcription of a gene in a variety of cell types (in some embodiments, in all cell types) of an organism. Exemplary constitutive promoters include the promoters for the following genes which encode certain constitutive or “housekeeping” functions: hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT), dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR; (Scharfmann et al., 1991), adenosine deaminase, phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK), pyruvate kinase, phosphoglycerate mutase, the beta-actin promoter (see e.g., Williams et al., 1993), and other constitutive promoters known to those of skill in the art. “Tissue-specific” or “cell-type-specific” promoters, on the other hand, direct transcription in some tissues or cell types of an organism but are inactive in some or all others tissues or cell types. Exemplary tissue-specific promoters include those promoters described in more detail hereinbelow, as well as other tissue-specific and cell-type specific promoters known to those of skill in the art. In some embodiments, a tissue-specific promoter is a seed-specific promoter, leaf specific, root specific promoter.
[0078] When used in the context of a promoter, the term “linked” as used herein refers to a physical proximity of promoter elements such that they function together to direct transcription of an operatively linked nucleotide sequence
[0079] The term “transcriptional regulatory sequence” or “transcriptional regulatory element”, as used herein, each refers to a nucleotide sequence within the promoter region that enables responsiveness to a regulatory transcription factor. Responsiveness can encompass a decrease or an increase in transcriptional output and is mediated by binding of the transcription factor to the DNA molecule comprising the transcriptional regulatory element. In some embodiments, a transcriptional regulatory sequence is a transcription termination sequence, alternatively referred to herein as a transcription termination signal.
[0080] Coding sequences intended for expression in transgenic plants can be first assembled in expression cassettes operably linked to a suitable promoter expressible in plants. The expression cassettes can also comprise any further sequences required or selected for the expression of the transgene. Such sequences include, but are not limited to, transcription terminators, extraneous sequences to enhance expression such as introns, vital sequences, and sequences intended for the targeting of the transgene-encoded product to specific organelles and cell compartments. These expression cassettes can then be easily transferred to the plant transformation vectors disclosed below. The following is a description of various components of typical expression cassettes.
[0081] The selection of the promoter used in expression cassettes can determine the spatial and temporal expression pattern of the transgene in the transgenic plant. Selected promoters can express transgenes in specific cell types (such as leaf epidermal cells, mesophyll cells, root cortex cells) or in specific tissues or organs (roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds, for example) and the selection can reflect the desired location for accumulation of the transgene. Alternatively, the selected promoter can drive expression of the gene under various inducing conditions. Promoters vary in their strength; i.e., their abilities to promote transcription. Depending upon the host cell system utilized, any one of a number of suitable promoters can be used, including the gene's native promoter. The following are non-limiting examples of promoters that can be used in expression cassettes.
[0082] Ubiquitin is a gene product known to accumulate in many cell types and its promoter has been cloned from several species for use in transgenic plants (e.g. sunflower-Binet et al., 1991; maize-Christensen & Quail, 1989; and Arabidopsis-Callis et al., 1990). The Arabidopsis ubiquitin promoter is suitable for use with the nucleotide sequences of the presently disclosed subject matter. The ubiquitin promoter is suitable for gene expression in transgenic plants, both monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Suitable vectors are derivatives of pAHC25 or any of the transformation vectors disclosed herein, modified by the introduction of the appropriate ubiquitin promoter and/or intron sequences.
[0083] Construction of the plasmid pCGN1761 is disclosed in the published patent application EP 0 392 225, which is hereby incorporated by reference. pCGN1761 contains the “double” CaMV 35S promoter and the tml transcriptional terminator with a unique EcoRI site between the promoter and the terminator and has a pUC-type backbone. A derivative of pCGN1761 is constructed which has a modified polylinker that includes NotI and XhoI sites in addition to the existing EcoRI site. This derivative is designated pCGN1761 ENX. pCGN1761 ENX is useful for the cloning of cDNA sequences or coding sequences (including microbial ORF sequences) within its polylinker for the purpose of their expression under the control of the 35S promoter in transgenic plants. The entire 35S promoter-coding sequence-tml terminator cassette of such a construction can be excised by HindIII, SphI, SalI, and XbaI sites 5′ to the promoter and XbaI, BamHI and BglI sites 3′ to the terminator for transfer to transformation vectors such as those disclosed below. Furthermore, the double 35S promoter fragment can be removed by 5′ excision with HindIII, SphI, SalI, XbaI, or PsfI, and 3′ excision with any of the polylinker restriction sites (EcoRI, Notl or Xhol) for replacement with another promoter. If desired, modifications around the cloning sites can be made by the introduction of sequences that can enhance translation. This is particularly useful when overexpression is desired. For example, pCGN1761ENX can be modified by optimization of the translational initiation site as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,639,949, incorporated herein by reference.
[0084] Several isoforms of actin are known to be expressed in most cell types and consequently the actin promoter can be used as a constitutive promoter. In particular, the promoter from the rice Actl gene has been cloned and characterized (McElroy et al., 1990). A 1.3 kilobase (kb) fragment of the promoter was found to contain all the regulatory elements required for expression in rice protoplasts. Furthermore, expression vectors based on the Acti promoter have been constructed (McElroy et al., 1991). These incorporate the Actl-intron 1, Adhl 5′ flanking sequence (from the maize alcohol dehydrogenase gene) and Adhl-intron 1 and sequence from the CaMV 35S promoter. Vectors showing highest expression were fusions of 35S and Actl intron or the Actl 5′ flanking sequence and the Actl intron. Optimization of sequences around the initiating ATG (of the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene) also enhanced expression.
[0085] The promoter expression cassettes disclosed in McElroy et al., 1991, can be easily modified for gene expression. For example, promoter-containing fragments are removed from the McElroy constructions and used to replace the double 35S promoter in pCGN1761ENX, which is then available for the insertion of specific gene sequences. The fusion genes thus constructed can then be transferred to appropriate transformation vectors. In a separate report, the rice Actl promoter with its first intron has also been found to direct high expression in cultured barley cells (Chibbar et al., 1993).
[0086] The double 35S promoter in pCGN1761ENX can be replaced with any other promoter of choice that will result in suitably high expression levels. By way of example, one of the chemically regulatable promoters disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,614,395, such as the tobacco PR-1a promoter, can replace the double 35S promoter. Alternately, the Arabidopsis PR-1 promoter disclosed in Lebel et al., 1998, can be used. The promoter of choice can be excised from its source by restriction enzymes, but can alternatively be PCR-amplified using primers that carry appropriate terminal restriction sites.
[0087] A promoter inducible by certain alcohols or ketones, such as ethanol, can also be used to confer inducible expression of a coding sequence of the presently disclosed subject matter. Such a promoter is for example the alcA gene promoter from Aspergillus nidulans (Caddick et al., 1998). In A. nidulans, the alcA gene encodes alcohol dehydrogenase I, the expression of which is regulated by the AlcR transcription factors in presence of the chemical inducer. For the purposes of the presently disclosed subject matter, the CAT coding sequences in plasmid palcA:CAT comprising a alcA gene promoter sequence fused to a minimal 35S promoter (Caddick et al., 1998) are replaced by a coding sequence of the presently disclosed subject matter to form an expression cassette having the coding sequence under the control of the alcA gene promoter. This is carried out using methods known in the art.
[0088] Induction of expression of a nucleic acid sequence of the presently disclosed subject matter using systems based on steroid hormones is also provided. For example, a glucocorticoid-mediated induction system can be used and gene expression is induced by application of a glucocorticoid, for example, a synthetic glucocorticoid, for example dexamethasone, at a concentration ranging in some embodiments from 0.1 mM to 1 mM, and in some embodiments from 10 mM to 100 mM.
[0089] Another pattern of gene expression is root expression. A suitable root promoter is the promoter of the maize metallothionein-like (MTL) gene disclosed in de Framond, 1991, and also in U.S. Pat. No. 5,466,785, each of which is incorporated herein by reference. This “MTL” promoter is transferred to a suitable vector such as pCGN 1761 ENX for the insertion of a selected gene and subsequent transfer of the entire promoter-gene-terminator cassette to a transformation vector of interest.
[0090] Wound-inducible promoters can also be suitable for gene expression. Numerous such promoters have been disclosed (e.g. Xu et al., 1993; Logemann et al., 1989; Rohrmeier & Lehle, 1993; Firek et al., 1993; Warner et al., 1993) and all are suitable for use with the presently disclosed subject matter. Logemann et al. describe the 5′ upstream sequences of the dicotyledonous potato wunl gene. Xu et al. show that a wound-inducible promoter from the dicotyledon potato (pin2) is active in the monocotyledon rice. Further, Rohrmeier & Lehle describe the cloning of the maize Wip1 cDNA that is wound induced and which can be used to isolate the cognate promoter using standard techniques. Similarly, Firek et al. and Warner et al. have disclosed a wound-induced gene from the monocotyledon Asparagus officinalis, which is expressed at local wound and pathogen invasion sites. Using cloning techniques well known in the art, these promoters can be transferred to suitable vectors, fused to the genes pertaining to the presently disclosed subject matter, and used to express these genes at the sites of plant wounding.
[0091] A maize gene encoding phosphoenol carboxylase (PEPC) has been disclosed by Hudspeth and Grula, 1989. Using standard molecular biological techniques, the promoter for this gene can be used to drive the expression of any gene in a leaf-specific manner in transgenic plants.
[0092] A variety of transcriptional terminators are available for use in expression cassettes. These are responsible for termination of transcription and correct mRNA polyadenylation. Appropriate transcriptional terminators are those that are known to function in plants and include the CaMV 35S terminator, the tml terminator, the nopaline synthase terminator, the octopine synthase terminator, and the pea rbcS E9 terminator. These can be used in both monocotyledons and dicotyledons. In addition, a gene's native transcription terminator can be used.
[0093] Numerous sequences have been found to enhance gene expression from within the transcriptional unit and these sequences can be used in conjunction with the genes of the presently disclosed subject matter to increase their expression in transgenic plants.
[0094] Various intron sequences have been shown to enhance expression, particularly in monocotyledonous cells. For example, the introns of the maize Adhl gene have been found to significantly enhance the expression of the wild type gene under its cognate promoter when introduced into maize cells. Intron 1 was found to be particularly effective and enhanced expression in fusion constructs with the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene (Callis et al., 1987). In the same experimental system, the intron from the maize bronze1 gene had a similar effect in enhancing expression. Intron sequences have been routinely incorporated into plant transformation vectors, typically within the non-translated leader.
[0095] Promoters for constant expression are exemplified by the 35S promoter of cauliflower mosaic virus (Odell et al., Nature, 1985, 313, 810), the actin promoter of rice (Zhang et al., Plant Cell, 1991, 3, 1155), the ubiquitin promoter of corn (Cornejo et al., Plant Mol. Biol., 1993, 23, 567), etc. Furthermore, promoters for inductive expression are exemplified by promoters that are expressed by extrinsic factors such as infection and invasion of filamentous fungi, bacteria, and viruses, low temperature, high temperature, drought, ultraviolet irradiation, spraying of particular compounds, and the like. Such promoters are exemplified by the chitinase gene promoter of rice (Xu et al., Plant Mol. Biol., 1996, 30, 387.) and tobacco PR protein gene promoter (Ohshima et al., Plant Cell, 1990, 2, 95.) expressed by the infection and invasion of filamentous fungi, bacteria and viruses, the “lip 19” gene promoter of rice induced by low temperature (Aguan et al., Mol. Gen. Genet., 1993, 240, 1.), “hsp 80” and “hsp 72” gene promotors of rice induced by high temperature (Van Breusegem et al., Planta, 1994, 193, 57.), “rab 16” gene promoter of Arabidopsis thaliana induced by dryness (Nundy et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 1990, 87, 1406), chalcone synthase gene promoter of parsley induced by ultraviolet irradiation (Schulze-Lefert et al., EMBO J., 1989, 8, 651.), alcohol dehydrogenase gene promoter of corn induced by anaerobic conditions (Walker et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 1987, 84, 6624) and so on. In addition, the chitinase gene promoter of rice and PR protein gene promoter of tobacco are induced also by specific compounds such as salicylic acid, and such, and the “rab 16” gene promoter is induced by the spraying of abcisic acid, a phytohormone.
[0096] A number of non-translated leader sequences derived from viruses are also known to enhance expression, and these are particularly effective in dicotyledonous cells. Specifically, leader sequences from Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV; the “W-sequence”), Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus (MCMV), and Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (AMV) have been shown to be effective in enhancing expression (see e.g., Gallie et al., 1987; Skuzeski et al., 1990). Other leader sequences known in the art include, but are not limited to, picornavirus leaders, for example, EMCV (encephalomyocarditis virus) leader (5′ noncoding region; see Elroy-Stein et al., 1989); potyvirus leaders, for example, from Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV; see Allison et al., 1986); Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus (MDMV; see Kong & Steinbiss 1998); human immunoglobulin heavy-chain binding polypeptide (BiP) leader (Macejak & Sarnow, 1991); untranslated leader from the coat polypeptide mRNA of alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV; RNA 4; see Jobling & Gehrke, 1987); tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) leader (Gallie et al., 1989); and Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus (MCMV) leader (Lommel et al., 1991). See also Della-Cioppa et al., 1987.
[0097] The term “transcription factor” generally refers to a protein that modulates gene expression by interaction with the transcriptional regulatory element and cellular components for transcription, including RNA Polymerase, Transcription Associated Factors (TAFs), chromatin-remodeling proteins, and any other relevant protein that impacts gene transcription.
[0098] The phrases “percent identity” and “percent identical,” in the context of two nucleic acid or protein sequences, refer to two or more sequences or subsequences that have in some embodiments at least 60%, in some embodiments at least 70%, in some embodiments at least 80%, in some embodiments at least 85%, in some embodiments at least 90%, in some embodiments at least 95%, in some embodiments at least 98%, and in some embodiments at least 99% nucleotide or amino acid residue identity, when compared and aligned for maximum correspondence, as measured using one of the following sequence comparison algorithms or by visual inspection. The percent identity exists in some embodiments over a region of the sequences that is at least about 50 residues in length, in some embodiments over a region of at least about 100 residues, and in some embodiments the percent identity exists over at least about 150 residues. In some embodiments, the percent identity exists over the entire length of a given region, such as a coding region.
[0099] For sequence comparison, typically one sequence acts as a reference sequence to which test sequences are compared. When using a sequence comparison algorithm, test and reference sequences are input into a computer, subsequence coordinates are designated if necessary, and sequence algorithm program parameters are designated. The sequence comparison algorithm then calculates the percent sequence identity for the test sequence(s) relative to the reference sequence, based on the designated program parameters.
[0100] A “reference sequence” is a defined sequence used as a basis for a sequence comparison. A reference sequence can be a subset of a larger sequence, for example, as a segment of a full-length nucleotide, or amino acid sequence, or can comprise a complete sequence. Generally, when used to refer to a nucleotide sequence, a reference sequence is at least 200, 300, or 400 nucleotides in length, frequently at least 600 nucleotides in length, and often at least 800 nucleotides in length. Because two proteins can each (1) comprise a sequence (i.e., a portion of the complete protein sequence) that is similar between the two proteins, and (2) can further comprise a sequence that is divergent between the two proteins, sequence comparisons between two (or more) proteins are typically performed by comparing sequences of the two proteins over a “comparison window” (defined hereinabove) to identify and compare local regions of sequence similarity.
[0101] Optimal alignment of sequences for comparison can be conducted, for example, by the local homology algorithm described in Smith & Waterman, 1981, by the homology alignment algorithm described in Needleman & Wunsch, 1970, by the search for similarity method described in Pearson & Lipman, 1988, by computerized implementations of these algorithms (GAP, BESTFIT, FASTA, and TFASTA in the GCG WISCONSIN PACKAGE, available from Accelrys, Inc., San Diego, Calif., United States of America), or by visual inspection. See generally, Ausubel et al., 1989.
[0102] One example of an algorithm that is suitable for determining percent sequence identity and sequence similarity is the BLAST algorithm, which is described in Altschul et al., 1990. Software for performing BLAST analyses is publicly available through the National Center for Biotechnology Information via the World Wide Web. This algorithm involves first identifying high scoring sequence pairs (HSPs) by identifying short words of length W in the query sequence, which either match or satisfy some positive-valued threshold score T when aligned with a word of the same length in a database sequence. T is referred to as the neighborhood word score threshold (Altschul et al., 1990). These initial neighborhood word hits act as seeds for initiating searches to find longer HSPs containing them. The word hits are then extended in both directions along each sequence for as far as the cumulative alignment score can be increased. Cumulative scores are calculated using, for nucleotide sequences, the parameters M (reward score for a pair of matching residues; always >0) and N (penalty score for mismatching residues; always <0). For amino acid sequences, a scoring matrix is used to calculate the cumulative score. Extension of the word hits in each direction are halted when the cumulative alignment score falls off by the quantity X from its maximum achieved value, the cumulative score goes to zero or below due to the accumulation of one or more negative-scoring residue alignments, or the end of either sequence is reached. The BLAST algorithm parameters W, T, and X determine the sensitivity and speed of the alignment. The BLASTN program (for nucleotide sequences) uses as defaults a wordlength (W) of 11, an expectation (E) of 10, a cutoff of 100, M=5, N=−4, and a comparison of both strands. For amino acid sequences, the BLASTP program uses as defaults a wordlength (W) of 3, an expectation (E) of 10, and the BLOSUM62 scoring matrix. See Henikoff & Henikoff, 1992.
[0103] In addition to calculating percent sequence identity, the BLAST algorithm also performs a statistical analysis of the similarity between two sequences. See e.g., Karlin & Altschul 1993. One measure of similarity provided by the BLAST algorithm is the smallest sum probability (P(N)), which provides an indication of the probability by which a match between two nucleotide or amino acid sequences would occur by chance. For example, a test nucleic acid sequence is considered similar to a reference sequence if the smallest sum probability in a comparison of the test nucleic acid sequence to the reference nucleic acid sequence is in some embodiments less than about 0.1, in some embodiments less than about 0.01, and in some embodiments less than about 0.001.
[0104] As used herein, the terms “polypeptide”, “protein”, and “peptide”, which are used interchangeably herein, refer to a polymer of the 20 protein amino acids, or amino acid analogs, regardless of its size or function. Although “protein” is often used in reference to relatively large polypeptides, and “peptide” is often used in reference to small polypeptides, usage of these terms in the art overlaps and varies. The term “polypeptide” as used herein refers to peptides, polypeptides and proteins, unless otherwise noted. As used herein, the terms “protein”, “polypeptide”, and “peptide” are used interchangeably herein when referring to a gene product. The term “polypeptide” encompasses proteins of all functions, including enzymes. Thus, exemplary polypeptides include gene products, naturally occurring proteins, homologs, orthologs, paralogs, fragments, and other equivalents, variants and analogs of the foregoing.
[0105] Modification of amino acids in proteins can include conservative and non-conservative amino acid substitutions and may further include deletions, rearrangements or additions. In one embodiment, an SRF-6 or -7 polypeptide contains from about 1-50 amino acid substitutions either all conservative substitutions or some conservative and some non-conservative substitutions.
[0106] The terms “polypeptide fragment” or “fragment”, when used in reference to a reference polypeptide, refers to a polypeptide in which amino acid residues are deleted as compared to the reference polypeptide itself, but where the remaining amino acid sequence is usually identical to the corresponding positions in the reference polypeptide. Such deletions can occur at the amino-terminus or carboxy-terminus of the reference polypeptide, or alternatively both. Fragments typically are at least 5, 6, 8, or 10 amino acids long, at least 14 amino acids long, at least 20, 30, 40, or 50 amino acids long, at least 75 amino acids long, or at least 100, 150, 200, 300, 500, or more amino acids long. A fragment can retain one or more of the biological activities of the reference polypeptide. Further, fragments can include a sub-fragment of a specific region, which sub-fragment retains a function of the region from which it is derived. For example, a useful SRF-6 or -7 fragment is capable of inducing cesA expression.
[0107] As used herein, the term “primer” refers to a sequence comprising in some embodiments two or more deoxyribonucleotides or ribonucleotides, in some embodiments more than three, in some embodiments more than eight, and in some embodiments at least about 20 nucleotides of an exonic or intronic region. Such oligonucleotides are in some embodiments between ten and thirty bases in length.
[0108] The term “purified” refers to an object species that is the predominant species present (i.e., on a molar basis it is more abundant than any other individual species in the composition).
[0109] The term “transfection” refers to the introduction of a nucleic acid, e.g., an expression vector, into a recipient cell, which in certain instances involves nucleic acid-mediated gene transfer. The term “transformation” refers to a process in which a cell's genotype is changed as a result of the cellular uptake of exogenous nucleic acid. For example, a transformed cell can express a recombinant form of a polypeptide of the presently disclosed subject matter.
[0110] The transformation of a cell with an exogenous nucleic acid (for example, an expression vector) can be characterized as transient or stable. As used herein, the term “stable” refers to a state of persistence that is of a longer duration than that which would be understood in the art as “transient”. These terms can be used both in the context of the transformation of cells (for example, a stable transformation), or for the expression of a transgene (for example, the stable expression of a vector-encoded nucleic acid sequence comprising a trigger sequence) in a transgenic cell. In some embodiments, a stable transformation results in the incorporation of the exogenous nucleic acid molecule (for example, an expression vector) into the genome of the transformed cell. As a result, when the cell divides, the vector DNA is replicated along with plant genome so that progeny cells also contain the exogenous DNA in their genomes.
[0111] In some embodiments, the term “stable expression” relates to expression of a nucleic acid molecule (for example, a vector-encoded nucleic acid sequence comprising a trigger sequence) over time. Thus, stable expression requires that the cell into which the exogenous DNA is introduced express the encoded nucleic acid at a consistent level over time. Additionally, stable expression can occur over the course of generations. When the expressing cell divides, at least a fraction of the resulting daughter cells can also express the encoded nucleic acid, and at about the same level. It should be understood that it is not necessary that every cell derived from the cell into which the vector was originally introduced express the nucleic acid molecule of interest. Rather, particularly in the context of a whole plant, the term “stable expression” requires only that the nucleic acid molecule of interest be stably expressed in tissue(s) and/or location(s) of the plant in which expression is desired. In some embodiments, stable expression of an exogenous nucleic acid is achieved by the integration of the nucleic acid into the genome of the host cell.
[0112] The term “vector” refers to a nucleic acid capable of transporting another nucleic acid to which it has been linked. One type of vector that can be used in accord with the presently disclosed subject matter is an Agrobacterium binary vector, i.e., a nucleic acid capable of integrating the nucleic acid sequence of interest into the host cell (for example, a plant cell) genome. Other vectors include those capable of autonomous replication and expression of nucleic acids to which they are linked. Vectors capable of directing the expression of genes to which they are operatively linked are referred to herein as “expression vectors”. In general, expression vectors of utility in recombinant DNA techniques are often in the form of plasmids. In the present specification, “plasmid” and “vector” are used interchangeably as the plasmid is the most commonly used form of vector. However, the presently disclosed subject matter is intended to include such other forms of expression vectors which serve equivalent functions and which become known in the art subsequently hereto.
[0113] The term “expression vector” as used herein refers to a DNA sequence capable of directing expression of a particular nucleotide sequence in an appropriate host cell, comprising a promoter operatively linked to the nucleotide sequence of interest which is operatively linked to transcription termination sequences. It also typically comprises sequences required for proper translation of the nucleotide sequence. The construct comprising the nucleotide sequence of interest can be chimeric. The construct can also be one that is naturally occurring but has been obtained in a recombinant form useful for heterologous expression. The nucleotide sequence of interest, including any additional sequences designed to effect proper expression of the nucleotide sequences, can also be referred to as an “expression cassette”.
[0114] Embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter provide an expression cassette comprising one or more elements operably linked in an isolated nucleic acid. In some embodiments, the expression cassette comprises one or more operably linked promoters, coding sequences, and/or promoters.
[0115] Further encompassed within the presently disclosed subject matter are recombinant vectors comprising an expression cassette according to the embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter. Also encompassed are plant cells comprising expression cassettes according to the present disclosure, and plants comprising these plant cells.
[0116] In some embodiments, the expression cassette is expressed in a specific location or tissue of a plant. In some embodiments, the location or tissue includes, but is not limited to, epidermis, root, vascular tissue, meristem, cambium, cortex, pith, leaf, flower, seed, and combinations thereof.
[0117] The presently disclosed subject matter further provides a method for modifying (i.e. increasing or decreasing) the concentration or composition of a polypeptide of the presently disclosed subject matter having an effect on cellulose content in a plant or part thereof. The method comprises in some embodiments introducing into a plant cell an expression cassette comprising a nucleic acid molecule of the presently disclosed subject matter as disclosed above to obtain a transformed plant cell or tissue (also referred to herein as a “transgenic” plant cell or tissue), and culturing the transformed plant cell or tissue. The nucleic acid molecule can be under the regulation of a constitutive or inducible promoter, and in some embodiments can be under the regulation of a tissue- or cell type-specific promoter.
[0118] A plant or plant part having modified expression of a nucleic acid molecule of the presently disclosed subject matter can be analyzed and selected using methods known to those skilled in the art including, but not limited to, Southern blotting, DNA sequencing, and/or PCR analysis using primers specific to the nucleic acid molecule and detecting amplicons produced therefrom. For example, a host cell transformed with a vector or polynucleotide of the disclosure can be analyzed for cellulose synthase (e.g., CesA) expression compared to a non-transformed cell. Cells that have increased cellulose synthase expression are indicative of a cell transformed with a polynucleotide of the disclosure.
[0119] In general, the presently disclosed compositions and methods can result in an increase in cesA expression or cellulose content of a plant by at least 5%, in some embodiments at least 10%, in some embodiments at least 20%, in some embodiments at least 30%, in some embodiments at least 40%, in some embodiments at least 50%, in some embodiments at least 60%, in some embodiments at least 70%, in some embodiments at least 80%, and in some embodiments at least 90% relative to a native control plant, plant part, or cell lacking the expression cassette.
[0120] Numerous transformation vectors available for plant transformation are known to those of ordinary skill in the plant transformation art, and the genes pertinent to the presently disclosed subject matter can be used in conjunction with any such vectors. The selection of vector will depend upon the selected transformation technique and the target species for transformation. For certain target species, different antibiotic or herbicide selection markers might be employed. Selection markers used routinely in transformation include the nptil gene, which confers resistance to kanamycin and related antibiotics (Messing & Vieira, 1982; Bevan et al., 1983); the bargene, which confers resistance to the herbicide phosphinothricin (White et al., 1990; Spencer et al., 1990); the hph gene, which confers resistance to the antibiotic hygromycin (Blochinger & Diggelmann, 1984); the dhfr gene, which confers resistance to methotrexate (Bourouis & Jarry, 1983); the EPSP synthase gene, which confers resistance to glyphosate (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,940,935 and 5,188,642); and the mannose-6-phosphate isomerase gene, which provides the ability to metabolize mannose (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,767,378 and 5,994,629).
[0121] Many vectors are available for transformation using Agrobacterium tumefaciens. These typically carry at least one T-DNA border sequence and include vectors such as PBIN19 (Bevan, 1984). Below, the construction of two typical vectors suitable for Agrobacterium transformation is disclosed.
[0122] Transformation without the use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens circumvents the requirement for T-DNA sequences in the chosen transformation vector, and consequently vectors lacking these sequences can be utilized in addition to other vectors that contain T-DNA sequences. Transformation techniques that do not rely on Agrobacterium include transformation via particle bombardment, protoplast uptake (e.g. polyethylene glycol (PEG) and electroporation), and microinjection. The choice of vector depends largely on the species being transformed.
[0123] Once a nucleic acid sequence of the presently disclosed subject matter has been cloned into an expression system, it is transformed into a plant cell. The expression cassettes of the presently disclosed subject matter can be introduced into the plant cell in a number of art-recognized ways. Methods for regeneration of plants are also well known in the art. For example, Ti plasmid vectors have been utilized for the delivery of foreign DNA, as well as direct DNA uptake, liposomes, electroporation, microinjection, and microprojectiles. In addition, bacteria from the genus Agrobacterium can be utilized to transform plant cells. Below are descriptions of representative techniques for transforming both dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous plants, as well as a representative plastid transformation technique.
[0124] Transformation techniques for dicotyledons are well known in the art and include Agrobacterium-based techniques and techniques that do not require Agrobacterium. Non-Agrobacterium techniques involve the uptake of exogenous genetic material directly by protoplasts or cells. This can be accomplished by PEG or electroporation-mediated uptake, particle bombardment-mediated delivery, or microinjection. Examples of these techniques are disclosed in Paszkowski et al., 1984; Potrykus et al., 1985; and Klein et al., 1987. In each case the transformed cells are regenerated to whole plants using standard techniques known in the art.
[0125] Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is a useful technique for transformation of dicotyledons because of its high efficiency of transformation and its broad utility with many different species. Agrobacterium transformation typically involves the transfer of a binary vector carrying the foreign DNA of interest to an appropriate Agrobacterium strain which can depend on the complement of vir genes carried by the host Agrobacterium strain either on a co-resident Ti plasmid or chromosomally.
[0126] Transformation of the target plant species by recombinant Agrobacterium usually involves co-cultivation of the Agrobacterium with explants from the plant and follows protocols well known in the art. Transformed tissue is regenerated on selectable medium carrying the antibiotic or herbicide resistance marker present between the binary plasmid T-DNA borders.
[0127] Various techniques can be used to introduce an aforementioned expression vector into host plant cells. As described above examples of these techniques include transformation of plant cells by T-DNA using Agrobacterium tumefaciens or Agrobacterium rhizogenes for the transformation factor, direct introduction into a protoplast (by a method such as electroporation in which a DNA is introduced into plant cells by treating protoplasts with an electric pulse, fusion of protoplasts with liposomes and so forth, microinjection, and the use of polyethylene glycol), and the use of a particle gun.
[0128] In addition, a desired gene can be introduced into a plant, by using a plant virus as vector. An example of a plant virus that can be used is cauliflower mosaic virus. Namely, after first preparing a recombinant by inserting the virus genome into a vector derived from E. coli and so forth, the desired gene is inserted into the virus genome. Such desired genes can then be introduced into a plant by cutting out the virus genome modified in this manner from the recombinant with a restriction enzyme, and inoculating into the plant (Hohn, et al. (1982), Molecular Biology of Plant Tumors (Academic Press, New York), p. 549, U.S. Pat. No. 4,407,956). The technique for introducing a vector into plant cells or a plant is not limited to these, and includes other possibilities as well.
[0129] There are no limitations on the required vector in the case of direct insertion into a protoplast. For example, a simple plasmid such as a pUC derivative can be used. Other DNA sequences may be required depending on the method used to introduce the desired gene into plant cells. For example, in the case of using a Ti or Ri plasmid to transform plant cells, at least the sequence on the right end, and typically the sequences on both ends, of the T-DNA region of Ti and Ri plasmids must be connected so as to become an adjacent region of the gene to be introduced.
[0130] When using an Agrobacterium species for transformation, a gene to be introduced needs to be cloned into a special plasmid, namely an intermediate vector or a binary vector. Intermediate vectors are not replicated in Agrobacterium species. Intermediate vectors are transferred into Agrobacterium species by helper plasmids or electroporation. Since intermediate vectors have a region that is homologous with the T-DNA sequence, they are incorporated within the Ti or Ri plasmid of Agrobacterium species by homologous recombination. It is necessary for the Agrobacterium species used for the host to comprise a vir region. Normally, Ti or Ri plasmids comprise a vir region, and due to its function, T-DNA can be transferred into plant cells.
[0131] On the other hand, since a binary vector can be replicated and maintained in Agrobacterium species, when a vector is incorporated into Agrobacterium species by a helper plasmid or electroporation, the T-DNA of the binary vector can be transferred into plant cells due to the action of the vir region of the host.
[0132] Furthermore, intermediate vectors or binary vectors obtained in this manner, as well as microorganisms such as E. coli and Agrobacterium species that comprise them are also included in the disclosure.
[0133] In addition, the disclosure provides transgenic plants that have been redifferentiated from the aforementioned transgenic plant cells, transgenic plants that are progenies or clones of the transgenic plants, and breeding material of the transgenic plants. Such is a useful transgenic plant in which cell wall components and cell morphogenesis have been altered. There are no particular limitations on the alteration of cell wall components in the disclosure, and include various quantitative and qualitative changes to create plants high in cellulose, low in lignin, having thick cell walls, thin cell walls, long and short fiber lengths, etc. In addition, examples of cell morphology alterations include, but are not limited to, changes in cell elongation and cell size (quantitative changes in volume).
[0134] Another approach to transforming plant cells with a gene involves propelling inert or biologically active particles at plant tissues and cells. This technique is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,945,050; 5,036,006; and 5,100,792; all to Sanford et al. Generally, this procedure involves propelling inert or biologically active particles at the cells under conditions effective to penetrate the outer surface of the cell and afford incorporation within the interior thereof. When inert particles are utilized, the vector can be introduced into the cell by coating the particles with the vector containing the desired gene. Alternatively, the target cell can be surrounded by the vector so that the vector is carried into the cell by the wake of the particle. Biologically active particles (e.g., dried yeast cells, dried bacterium, or a bacteriophage, each containing DNA sought to be introduced) can also be propelled into plant cell tissue.
[0135] There are no particular limitations on the genus or species of plants that can be used in the methods and compositions of the disclosure. Examples include useful agricultural crops such as grains, vegetables, and fruits (including feed crops), fiber raw material plants such as pulp, and plants valued for their aesthetic beauty such as foliage plants. The methods and compositions of the disclosure can be used in Eucalyptus, pine, acacia, poplar, cedar, cypress, bamboo, yew, rice, corn, wheat, barley, rye, potato, tobacco, sugar beet, sugar cane, rapeseed, soybean, sunflower, cotton, orange, grape, peach, pear, apple, tomato, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, radish, carrot, squash, cucumber, melon, parsley, orchid, chrysanthemum, lily, and saffron. In addition, some microorganisms produce various types of cellulosic material. The methods and compositions of the disclosure can be used in the generation of recombinant microorganism for the production of cellulosic material. Such microorganisms and plants may be useful for the production of biofuels and the like.
[0136] In addition, the disclosure provides transgenic plant cells into which a vector of the disclosure has been introduced. There are no particular limitations on the cells into which a vector of the disclosure is introduced, examples of which include the cells of rice, corn, wheat, barley, rye, potato, tobacco, sugar beet, sugar cane, rapeseed, soybean, sunflower, cotton, orange, grape, peach, pear, apple, tomato, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, radish, carrot, squash, cucumber, melon, parsley, orchid, chrysanthemum, lily, and saffron; however, trees such as Eucalyptus, pine, acacia, poplar, cedar, cypress, bamboo, and yew are preferable. In addition, plant cells of the disclosure comprise cultured cells, as well as cells present in a plant. In addition, protoplasts, shoot primordia, multiple shoots, and hairy roots are also included.
[0137] A transgenic plant of the disclosure is useful as a plant having a novel value such as increased plant growth as a result of increasing cell wall biosynthesis, altered fiber cell morphology, or increased amounts of useful components in agricultural crops. In addition, it is also useful as a plant having a novel value in developing new materials by controlling cell wall biosynthesis, increasing the digestion and absorption efficiencies of feed crops, changing fiber cell morphology, and the like.
[0138] In the disclosure, a “transgenic plant” refers to a plant having the aforementioned transgenic plant cells, and includes, for example, a transgenic plant regenerated from the aforementioned transgenic cells. Although the methods used to regenerate individual plants from transformed plant cells vary according to the type of plant cell, an example of a method used in rice plants is the method of Fujimura et al. (Fujimura et al., Plant Tissue Culture Lett., 2, 74, 1995), the method of Shillito et al. (Shillito et al., Bio/Technology, 7, 581, 1989) in corn plants, the method of Visser et al. (Visser et al., Theor. Appl. Genet., 78, 589, 1989) in potato plants, the method of Akama et al. (Akama et al., Plant Cell Rep., 12, 7, 1992) in Arabidopsis thaliana, and the method of Doi et al. (Japanese Patent Application No. Hei 11-127025) in Eucalyptus plants. Transgenic plants produced according to these methods or transgenic plants obtained from their breeding materials (such as seeds, tubers, or cuttings) are included in the disclosure.
[0139] The disclosure includes a process of producing a plant from a plant seed by introducing into a host a gene expressed by a plant during cell wall formation and/or specifically expressed during cellulose biosynthesis, a homolog thereof, or an expression vector comprising a promoter region that is contiguous with these genes to obtain transgenic cells, regenerating a transgenic plant from said transgenic cells, and obtaining a plant seed from the resulting transgenic plant.
[0140] A process of obtaining a plant seed from a transgenic plant refers to a process in which, for example, a transgenic plant is acquired from a rooting medium, replanted in a pot containing moist soil, and grown at a constant temperature to form flowers, and finally seeds. In addition, a process of producing a plant from a seed refers to a process in which, for example, once a seed formed in a transgenic plant has matured, the seed is isolated, sowed on moist soil, and then grown at a constant temperature and luminosity, to produce a plant.
[0141] The exogenously introduced DNA or nucleic acid in a transformed plant can be confirmed by known methods, such as PCR or Southern hybridization, or by analyzing the nucleotide sequence of the plant's nucleic acid. To extract DNA or nucleic acid from a transformed plant, the known method of J. Sambrook et al. may be used (Molecular Cloning, 2nd edition, Cold Spring Harbor laboratory Press, 1989).
[0142] To conduct PCR analysis of a DNA of the disclosure that exists in a plant, an amplification reaction is carried out using, as a template, nucleic acid extracted from the regenerated plant. Amplification reaction may be carried out in a reaction mixture containing, as primers, synthesized oligonucleotides comprising nucleotide sequences appropriately selected according to the nucleotide sequence of a DNA of the disclosure. An amplified DNA fragment comprising a DNA sequence of the disclosure may be obtained by repeating several dozen cycles of the denaturation, annealing, and extension steps of the DNA amplification reaction. The respective amplified DNA fragments can be separated by, for example, electrophoresing the reaction solution containing the amplified products on agarose gel. DNA fragments corresponding to a DNA of the disclosure can then be confirmed.
[0143] Having obtained a transformed plant in which a DNA of the disclosure has been inserted into the chromosomes, one can obtain the plant's offspring by sexual or non-sexual reproduction. Also, it is possible to mass-produce such plants by obtaining reproductive materials (such as seeds, fruits, cuttings, stem tubers, root tubers, shoots, calluses, and protoplasts) from the above plant, or its offspring or clones.
[0144] A stable supply of biomass, mainly cellulose, can be provided by cultivating a transgenic plant of the disclosure on a larger scale using clone planting. At present, fossil resources are used in large amounts in industrial productions as raw materials and fuel (energy). With respect to alternative energy in particular, although the direct combustion of wood biomass (for fuel) is routinely carried out in developing countries, a more effective approach would be possible by converting the biomass into a more user-friendly form (such as alcohol, and specifically ethyl alcohol). One of the objectives is to use gasoline mixed with ethanol refined from biomass. A specific example is “gasohol” (a 10% blend of ethanol in gasoline) made from corn. Thus, for example, plants having a high cellulose content, it would be possible to obtain glucose by hydrolysis or enzyme degradation (cellulase) using the resulting lignocellulose as raw material, and in turn enable large-scale production of ethanol by alcohol fermentation. Basic technology for such processes has already been established.
[0145] In addition to conventional use as raw materials, there is also a considerable potential for creating an alternative energy to petroleum through biomass conversion, as well as the development of new plastics from cellulose and hemicellulose (both being technically possible), as a result of stable and large-scale cultivation of wood biomass and the recycling of that wood biomass through afforestation as in the disclosure. Moreover, the spread of wood biomass will contribute to solving energy security problems and environmental issues, while simultaneously leading to the development of new industries, including agricultural forestry, and the creation of employment opportunities.
[0146] The following examples are provided to further illustrate but not limit the disclosure.

EXAMPLES

[0147] Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia-0 (Col-0) was used. Before plating seeds were surface sterilized. First, the seeds were washed in 95% ethanol for 10 minutes, which was removed then the sterilization solution was added (20% bleach, 0.05% Tween-20 (Sigma) and double distilled water) and shaken for 10 minutes. The sterilization solution was removed and the seeds were washed three times with sterile distilled water. The seeds were cold treated for 4 days at 4° C. after plating them on the plates. Two different growth media were prepared for these experiments. For the control conditions: one-half strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) salts (Sigma), 0.5% sucrose (Sigma), 0.8% phyto agar (Research Products International Corp.), 1×B5 (1,000× in double distilled water: 10% myo-inositol, 0.1% nicotinic acid and 0.1% pyroxidine HCl) and 1× Thiamin (2,000× in double distilled water: 0.2% thiamin HCl). The other growth media contained either no sucrose but all other components remained the same. Plants used in Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Microspectroscopy and hypocotyl length, were only grown on sucrose-deprived media in the dark for four days after cold treatment. For selection of mutants from the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ARBC), they were first plated onto MS media containing 50 μg/ml Kanamycin to select for insertions containing the NTPII (Kanamycin resistance) gene. In the case this resistance is lost the seeds were also sown onto regular MS media containing no antibiotic and then transferred to soil after one week. Plants were then grown on soil for 2-3 weeks after transfer from the plates and they were examined for status of the T-DNA insertion. Only homozygous T3 and T4 knockout mutants were used for the following experiments.
[0148] Dominant negative construction. The Invitrogen Gateway technology was used to expedite the generation of the different RLK mutations used in this study. Generally, the RIKEN cDNA clone (pda06938, SRF7) was used as a template for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of extracellular and transmembrane portion of the receptor of SRF7. PCR product was gel eluted using Qiagen's QIAquick gel extraction kit using the manufacturer's protocol.
[0149] 
[00002] [TABLE-US-00002]
  Primers used:
  DN-SRF7 FWD(SalI):
  (SEQ ID NO: 27)
  5′-GGAAGTCGACCGAGAGAGATAGAGAAAGTGAGACAAGG-3′;
 
  DN-SRF7 REV(NotI):
  (SEQ ID NO: 28)
  5′-ATATGCGGCCGCCCTTCACCGAGAAGATTATCTACGCTG-3′.
[0150] Eluted DNA was subsequently ligated into Promega's pGEM-Teasy PCR vector. Gene fragment inserts were confirmed by DNA sequencing using the T7 and S6 sites in the pGEM-Teasy vector. Confirmed vectors were then restriction digested using the PCR introduced restriction sites (SalI and NotI). The restriction digest was run on a 1% agarose (Invitrogen) gel and the cut insert was removed using the QIAquick kit. The fragment was then ligated into a TAP tagged entry vector that was made my taking the pENTR-1A vector and introducing a 6×His and T7 epitope DNA sequence into the EcoRV restriction site in the pENTR-1A vector. This vector was designated pENTR-TAP2. The 3′ ends of the PCR fragment was designed to go into frame with the TAP sequence. The pENTR-TAP2 vector containing the SRF7 extracellular and transmembrane domain was then introduced into the final destination vector that contains the 35S promoter, pGWB2 (Invitrogen, Nakagawa). This construct was introduced into Arabidopsis (Col-0) via the floral dip method (Bechtold et al., 1993). Subsequent generations of the seeds were selected for using 50 μg/ml Kanamycin (Sigma) in MS media (same as control media except for addition of antibiotic), until T3 homozygous lines were found and these lines were used for all of the following experiments.
[0151] SRF single knockout mutant selection. The TAIR website was used to locate insertional mutants of SRF6 and SRF7. Two mutants were found for SRF6, SALK077702 and SALK035476, named srf6-1 and srf6-2 respectively. Three mutants were found for SRF7: SALK039120 (srf7-1), SALK115238 (srf7-2) and SALK110007 (srf7-3). Each T4 SALK line was examined using PCR to confirm the insertion and genotype. Only homozygous mutants were used for further experiments. Primers for insertion detection were generated using the T-DNA primer design tool (http:˜˜signal.salk.edu/tdnaprimers.html) at the Salk Institute Genomic Analysis Laboratory (SIGnAL).
[0152] 
[00003] [TABLE-US-00003]
    Primers used:
    SALK_077702 (srf6-1) LP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 29)
    5′TCGAGTTTATAACCGTCGGTG-3′;
   
    SALK_077702 (srf6-1) RP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 30)
    5′-TTTGAAGCAAGAGTGAAAGGC-3′;
   
    SALK_035476 (srf6-2) LP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 31)
    5′-AGCGCACCTGAAGTATCAATG-3′;
   
    SALK_035476 (srf6-2)
  (SEQ ID NO: 32)
    5′-GTGCCACTCCCAAGTATATGG-3′;
   
    SALK_039120 (srf7-1) LP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 33)
    5′-AAACCTTTAAAAGCGCGTAGG-3′;
   
    SALK_039120 (srf7-1) RP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 34)
    5′-CCCAGAAAAGAGAACAAACACAC-3′;
   
    SALK_115238 (srf7-2) LP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 35)
    5′-TTTCTAACTATGTAATCATCTGGTTGC-3′;
   
    SALK_115238 (srf7-2) RP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 36)
    5′-TTCCATGGAGGAACAAAAGAG-3′;
   
    SALK_110007 (srf7-3) LP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 37)
    5′GAGTGTACAATGCGTGAAGGG-3′;
   
    SALK_110007 (srf7-3) RP:
  (SEQ ID NO: 38)
    5′-GCATGAAGTTTGCTCACCATC-3′.
[0153] SRF overexpression construction. Construction of the overexpression of full length SRF7 also utilized Gateway technology and was constructed in a similar manner as the dominant negative SRF mutant using the pENTR TAP2 entry vector and the pGWB2 35S binary vector.
[0154] 
[00004] [TABLE-US-00004]
    Primers used:
    SRF7-TAP FWD (SalI):
  (SEQ ID NO: 39)
    5′-GGAAGTCGACTGTCTCATCTGGTTTCGAGAG-3′;
   
    SRF7-TAP REV(NotI):
  (SEQ ID NO: 40)
    5′-ATATGCGGCCGCTTTTGTTCATGTTGTCGGAATC-3′.
[0155] Combinatorial mutant construction. Two constructs were introduced into the srf7-1 mutant background, SRF7 full-length overexpression and the dominant negative (DN-srf7).
[0156] SRF double mutant. To generate a double mutant of SRF6 and SRF7 insertional mutants srf6-1 (SALK077702) and srf7-1 (SALK039120) homozygous lines were crossed and allowed to self fertilize until the F2 generation where they were then examined using the same PCR primers used for the single insertion mutants.
[0157] RNA and Real-Time RT-PCR Analysis. RNA was collected from four-day-old dark grown seedlings using Qiagen's RNeasy Kit following the manufacture's protocol. Two hundred nanograms of total RNA was used in a reverse transcriptase (Superscript II, Invitrogen) reaction in a 20 μl reaction volume. The cDNA was subsequently diluted to a concentration of 5 ng/μl and 5 μl (25 ng cDNA) was used per each real-time reaction (25 μl total reaction volume: 0.125 μl each primer (100 pM), 12.5 μl Bio-Rad SYBR green master mix, and sterile/DEPC ddH2O). Primers for real-time PCR were designed in all circumstances to span an intron and to be a final size of 300 base pairs (+/−10 base pairs).
[0158] 
[00005] [TABLE-US-00005]
    Primers used:
    ACT2 (At3g18780) FWD:
  (SEQ ID NO: 41)
    5′-GATGGGCAAGTCATCACGATTGG-3′;
   
    ACT2 (At3g18780) REV:
  (SEQ ID NO: 42)
    5′-ACCACCGATCCAGACACTGTACTTCC-3′;
   
    CESA3 (At5g05170) FWD:
  (SEQ ID NO: 43)
    5′-ATTGTTCCGCAGACTTGCCAG-3′;
   
    CESA3 (At5g05170) REV:
  (SEQ ID NO: 44)
    5′-CACGAGTAAGATGCCAACCAAGC-3′;
   
    CESA4 (At5g44030) FWD:
  (SEQ ID NO: 45)
    5′-GGAATGTCTCCTGTGTTTATTGCGTC-3′;
   
    CESA4 (At5g44030) REV:
  (SEQ ID NO: 46)
    GACGGAACCAAGAGCCCATCTAAG-3′;
   
    SRF6 (At1g53730) FWD:
  (SEQ ID NO: 47)
    5′-GCATTGTAGGGTTTGAGCTTAGATTC-3′;
   
    SRF6 (At1g53730) REV:
  (SEQ ID NO: 48)
    5′-GGAGGAAACTGATATGGTAAATCACC-3′;
   
    SRF7 (At3g14350) FWD:
  (SEQ ID NO: 49)
    5′-GCATTGTTGGGTTTGAGCCAAGTTTC-3′;
   
    SRF7 (At3g14350) REV:
  (SEQ ID NO: 50)
    5′-GGAGGAAGCTGATAAGGCAAATCGCC-3′.
[0159] The real-time PCR protocol was: 95° C. for 5 minutes, followed by 40 cycles of 95° C. for 45 seconds and 60° C. for 45 seconds with the fluorescence quantification at the end of every 60° C. step. The fold change was found using the delta delta Ct method using the ACTIN2 (At3g18780) gene expression as the control for relative gene expression values.
[0160] Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Microspectroscopy Analysis and Statistics. Plant materials used for FT-IR analysis were grown on MS plates without sucrose for 4 days in the dark following a 4-day period at 4° C. A Bruker Equinox 55 IR spectrometer equipped with a Bruker A590 IR microscope was used to analyze the 4-day old dark grown hypocotyls. Before examining on the IR spectrometer the plant material was placed on a BaF2 sample window and dried for 20 minutes at 37° C. The BaF2 sample window containing the dried samples was immediately placed into the sample window cassette and placed on the A590 microscope stage and examined using a 25× objective with an aperture setting of 70 μm. The entire system was purged with dry nitrogen from a Whatman purge gas generator to remove any contribution of atmospheric water or carbon dioxide to the examined spectra. Spectra were recorded from 600-4,000 cm−1 with a resolution of 2 cm−1, because this region contains all of the wavenumbers of cellulose and pectins. Baseline normalization of data was accomplished using MATLab software (version R207a) and additional software. This program took all of the collected wavenumbers for each experiment and reduced it to one normalized set of values for each mutant and the control wild type. This data was then analyzed for statistical significance using R (Version 2.6.2).
[0161] Confocal and SEM Imaging of Mutants. Plant materials for the observations using the Leica SP2 UV confocal microscope were 7-day old light grown seedlings (16 h light 8 h dark). Plant material for the Hitachi TM-1000 scanning electron microscope (SEM) was from 4-day old dark grown seedlings. Plant material for observation on the Leica microscope was placed on a glass slide and water was added to the slide and covered with a glass coverslip. Plants were observed using the 22× water objective and digital images were captured using the Leica software. Images were analyzed using NIH ImageJ software available from the National Institute of Health (http:˜˜rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/). Plant material for SEM imaging by embedding the etiolated hypocotyls in tissue embedding medium in the cryostat and then sectioning away material until the approximate center of the hypocotyl is reached and then viewed at 100-1,000× on the SEM (Hitachi TM-1000).
[0162] Monosaccharide Compositional Analysis Using GC-FID/MS. For analysis of the monosaccharide composition using gas chromatography (GC) the cell wall was isolated by use of a modified protocol from Chambers and Clamp (1971) and Chaplin (1982). First, approximately 5 grams of leaf tissue was frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored or used immediately for cell wall extraction. Frozen plant tissue was then crushed under liquid nitrogen and transferred to a 50 ml glass centrifuge tube with a Teflon lined cap and 35 ml of solution A was added and stirred for at least 2 hours at room temperature. Solution A consists of 200 ml 80% (w/v) phenol and 80 ml of glacial acetic acid. The stir bar was removed and the tube was then centrifuged at 2,500 rpm (1,200 g) for ten minutes. The supernatant was discarded and the pellet was resuspended in 35 ml of solution B and stirred for at least 2 hours. Solution B consists of 175 ml 80% (w/v) phenol, 70 ml glacial acetic acid and 35 ml distilled water. The stir bar was again removed and the tube centrifuged at 2,500 rpm (1,200 g) for ten minutes. The supernatant was discarded and the resulting pellet was resuspended in 35 ml of 70% ethanol. The pellet was then washed in 70% ethanol a total of three time or until there was no longer any phenol smell. The resulting pellet was then washed three times with 35 ml of 90% dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) with resuspension and centrifugation for 10 minutes, and supernatant discarded. The pellet was then washed three more times in 35 ml of 70% ethanol, and then resuspended in 35 ml of 2:1 CHCl3-methanol solution. 2:1 CHCl3-methanol solution is made using 380 ml CHCl3 and 190 ml methanol. The resuspended pellet in the 2:1 CHCl3-methanol solution was centrifuged for 10 minutes, the supernatant discarded and then resuspended in 2:1 CHCl3-methanol solution one more time and centrifuged, discarding the supernatant. This pellet was then prepared for drying by adding 35 ml acetone and resuspending the pellet. This was centrifuged for 10 minutes and the process was repeated for a total of three washes. On the final wash the cap is removed and the vial is covered with a single layer of Kimwipe that was kept in place with a rubber band. The vial was then placed into a vacuum desiccator without desiccant and attached to a vacuum line and vacuum was applied for around 10 hours. After the initial drying the samples were moved to a vacuum desiccator with desiccant and a vacuum was applied for 24 hours.
[0163] Imidazole and sodium hydroxide extraction from cell wall material. To further extract out proteins and other non-cellulose components of the cell wall, the dried crude cell wall extract was further extracted using imidazole and sodium hydroxide. For further separation 0.2 g of the material from the previous experiment was added to a new 50 ml high strength centrifuge tube with a Teflon cap. Forty milliliters of 500 mM imidazole HCl (ph 7.0) solution was then added and stirred overnight. The sample was centrifuged for 10 minutes at 2,500 rpm and the supernatant collected and another 40 ml of 500 mM imidazole solution was added and the remaining pellet agitated and stirred overnight at room temperature. This solution was then centrifuged again for 10 minutes at 2,500 rpm. This supernatant was added to the first supernatant and filtered through Whatman GF/A filter paper and loaded into Spectrum Spectra/Por4 dialysis tubing and dialyzed against distilled water at 4° C. overnight changing the water every 3 hours. To the pellet 30 ml of 1% NaBH4 in 6M NaOH was added and allowed to spin for 6 hours. This was then centrifuged for 10 minutes at 2,500 rmp and the supernatant was retained, and another 30 ml of 1% NaBH4 in 6M NaOH was added and allowed to spin overnight. After centrifugation at 2,500 rpm for 10 minutes the supernatants were pooled and then titrated to pH 5.5-6.0 with glacial acetic acid. This solution was then loaded into Spectrum Spectra/Por4 dialysis tubing and dialyzed against distilled water at 4° C. overnight. The water was replaced with fresh distilled water every 3 hours during the dialysis. The pellet was then resuspended in 1-2 ml distilled water and transferred to a pre-weighed glass vial and then frozen on dry ice, and then lyophilized for 24 hours or until all liquid was removed, this constitutes the NaOH insoluble fraction. The dialysis fractions of both the imidazol and 1% NaBH4 in 6M NaOH solution were also lyophilized.
[0164] Preparation of NaOH-Insoluble Fraction for Saemann hydrolysis. For the complete breakdown of NaOH insoluble fractions into monosaccharides acid hydrolysis was required. Five micrograms of lyophilized material from the NaOH insoluble fraction were first weighed into a glass vial and 100 μl of 11M H2SO4 was added and stirred for 1 hour. Then 2.1 ml of water was added with rapid stirring. The samples were then autoclaved for 1 hour at 121° C. with slow exhaust. After autoclaving ˜5.7 ml of Ba(OH)2 was added to the sample until the sample pH is greater then 9.5. Then 300 μl of 0.18M H2SO4 was added drop wise until a pH between 2 and 3 was achieved. Once this pH was obtained 300 μl of BaCO3 was added to each sample and stirred at full speed at 50° C. for 1.5 hours. The spin bar was removed and the samples were placed at 3° C. for 2 hours to encourage precipitation. The samples were then centrifuged for 15 minutes at 4,000 RPM at 24° C. The supernatant was poured off and measured for volume and the pellet was discarded. The supernatant was then concentrated until it reached a volume of approximately 1.5 ml. These can then be stored at −20° C. until further analysis.
[0165] Preparation of material for analysis by gas chromatography. To each sample 100 nM inositol was added as an internal standard. These samples were then dried under N2 gas and warmed to 40° C. in a water bath until no liquid was visible. At this time the sugar standards were prepared. The sugar standards consist of 100 nM of each sugar with 100 nM inositol added to also act as an internal control. Then the samples and standards were removed from the N2 stream and placed in a vacuum desiccator until completely dry. To each vial 400 μl of 1.5M methanolic HCl was added using a dry syringe and then 100 μl methyl acetate was added and the vial capped tightly. The vials are then placed in an 80° C. heating block for 12-14 hours. After the vials cool to room temperature the vials were then opened and a few drops of t-butanol were added and then evaporated under a N2 gas stream at room temperature. If the sample contained amino sugars then 20 μl of methanol was added followed by 20 μl of pyridine and 20 μl acetic anhydride and the vials sat at room temperature for 15 minutes. The samples were then evaporated under a N2 stream until dry. The to all samples 30 μl of trimethylsilylating reagent was added and allowed let to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Then the samples were again evaporated under N2 but not for more then a few minutes as it may drive off some of the more volatile sugars like arabinose. Finally, 200-250 μl of isooctane is added to the sample and they are now ready to be injected (1 μl) into the gas chromatograph.
[0166] Analysis of monosaccharides by gas chromatography. One microliter of each sample was injected into the Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II fitted with a DB1 capillary column. The standard sugar samples are added first followed by individual experimental samples. Each standard and sample was run in duplicate or triplicate and the area under the curve for the sugars was used to calculate the relative amount of each sugar. The first Excel spreadsheet calculates the glycosyl composition (mole percent) of a specimen based on the integrated areas of the sugar peaks in the gas chromatogram of the specimen and the gas chromatogram of a mixture of standard sugars (100 nmoles each), with all peak areas referenced to the area of inositol (100 nmoles), an internal standard added to all specimens. The second Excel spreadsheet combines the glycosyl composition results from the analyses of two whole cell wall specimens, one prepared by sulfuric acid preswelling and hydrolysis prior to methanolysis, and one prepared with methanolysis alone. The resulting combined glycosyl composition shows the additional amounts of sugars detected due to the sulfuric acid cleavage. These additional sugar amounts are predominantly glucose, plus a much smaller amount of mannose, which was derived from the cleavage of cellulose and tightly associated polymers that due to the near crystalline structure of cellulose were resistant to cleavage by methanolysis alone.
[0167] Analysis of Public Microarray Database for SRF and CesA Gene Expression During Diurnal Cycle and Isoxaben Treatment. Genevestigator (https:˜˜iii.genevestigator.ethz.ch/at/) a public microarray database analysis tool with a collection of all the available microarray sources allows for the search of specific experiments and gene expression levels of desired genes. Using the tool called digital northern the expression levels of the RLKs BRI1 (At4g39400), SERK1 (At1g71830), SRF3 (At4g03390), SRF6 and SRF7 were analyzed. BRI1 was used as a well known diurnally expressed RLK, SERK1 was used as a control RLK that does not show a diurnal fluctuation and SRF3 is a subfamily member related to SRF6 and SRF7 that were both being examined for diurnal fluctuations. These genes were also examined for their expression levels when exposed to a primary cellulose synthesis inhibitor called isoxaben. All ten cellulose synthase A genes (CesA1-10) were also examined for gene expression during diurnal cycle and for isoxaben treatment.
[0168] SRF6 and SRF7 are co-expressed with cellulose synthesis genes and their proteins have homologues in diverse plant species. The observed phenotype of larger leaves and epidermal cells in the dominant negative mutant of SRF6 and SRF7 demonstrate that these genes play a role in cell wall formation. Using the ATTED II database, http:˜˜www.atted.bio.titech.ac.jp, SRF6 and SRF7 were found to be co-expressed with multiple cellulose synthase A (CesA) genes required for primary cell wall synthesis (CesAs 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6) (Table 1). Furthermore, if these genes were important for cell wall synthesis it would be logical that they would be conserved in other plant species and this was found to be true for land plants and even some algae (Table 2).
[0169] 
[00006] [TABLE-US-00006]
  TABLE 1
 
  Top ten genes coexpressed with SRF6 and SRF7.
Using the ATTED II website (Arabidopsis thaliana trans-factor and
  cis-element prediction database II, (June 2007)
  http:~~www.atted.bio.titech.ac.jp) genes coexpressed with SRF6
  (At1g53730) and SRF7 (At3g14350) were examined. SRF7 shows
  coexpression with all of the primary cell wall cellulose synthases
  while SRF6 is coexpressed with arabinogalactan proteins, which
  associated with cell wall and coexpressed with ROP2, which also may
  be involved with cell wall organization or signaling.
  rank   correlation   locus   function
 
  SRF6 [At1g53730]
  1   0.65   At3g60320   DNA binding
  2   0.62   At3g11700   Fasciclin-like arabinogalactan
  3   0.58   At5g65390   Arabinogalactan-protein (AGP7)
  4   0.58   At1g20090   Rho-like GTP-binding protein (ROP2)
  5   0.58   At1g19835   Unknown
  6   0.58   At2g33570   Unknown
  7   0.58   At5g05170   Cellulose Synthase A3 (CESA3)
  8   0.58   At3g05900   Neurofilament protein-related
  9   0.57   At4g12730   Fasciclin-like arabinogalactan-protein (FLA2)
  10   0.57   At5g15350   Plastocyanin-like domain-containing protein
  SRF7 [At3g14350]
  1   0.65   At5g64740   Cellulose Synthase A6 (CESA6)
  2   0.61   At4g32410   Cellulose Synthase A1 (CESA1)
  3   0.60   At5g05170   Cellulose Synthase A3 (CESA3)
  4   0.60   At5g60920   COBRA, phytochelatin synthetase
  5   0.59   At4g39350   Cellulose Synthase A2 (CESA2)
  6   0.56   At1g45688   Unknown
  7   0.52   At5g09870   Cellulose Synthase A5 (CESA5)
  8   0.51   At1g75680   Glycosyl hydrolase family 9 protein
  9   0.51   At3g25500   FH2 domain-containing protein, actin rearrangement
  10   0.51   At2g35860   Fasciclin-like arabinogalactan
 
[0170] 
[00007] [TABLE-US-00007]
  TABLE 2
 
  Many species of land plants and algae contain homologues to
  SRF6 and SRF7 supporting their role as important genes for cell
  wall development and cellulose regulation. Homologous genes to SRF7
  can be found in many other land plants. There is a high amount of
protein identity to Isatis tinctoria a member if the Brassicaceae
family, a close relative to Arabidopsis. The lowest identity is to
  the more primitive land plant like the Liver Wort and the aquatic
  algae. Information was gathered from the TAIR database using the
  protein sequence of SRF7 to BLAST the protein database of green
  plants.
  Species   Common Name   % Identity   % Positives
 
  SRF6
Isatis tinctoria   Woad   81   85
Malus x domestica   Apple   77   87
Vitis vinifera   Vine grape   75   86
Triticum aestivum   Common wheat   70   80
Solanum chacoense   Wild potato   68   79
Zea mays   Corn   63   77
Oryza sativa   Rice   62   76
Solanum tuberosum   Potato   53   68
Closterium chrenbergii   Algae   40   60
Medicago truncatula   Barrel medic   39   61
Marchantia polymorpha   Liver wort   38   61
Nitella axillaris   Green algae   37   62
  SRF7
Isatis tinctoria   Woad   78   84
Malus x domestica   Apple   77   87
Triticum aestivum   Common wheat   70   80
Vitis vinifera   Vine grape   69   79
Solanum chacoense   Wild potato   65   76
Oryza sativa   Rice   61   74
Zea mays   Corn   61   74
Solanum tuberosum   Potato   56   71
Medicago truncatula   Barrel medic   43   62
Closterium chrenbergii   Algae   42   63
Marchantia polymorpha   Liver wort   40   61
Nitella axillaris   Green algae   38   61
 
[0171] Mutations in SRF6 and SRF7 alter dark grown hypocotyl length. In examining other mutants that affect cell wall synthesis it has been shown that CesA mutations can affect the length of the hypocotyl in etiolated seedlings. Presumably, by a reduction in the amount of cellulose synthesis affecting the capacity of the hypocotyl to elongate in the dark. The length of the hypocotyl of the various mutants of SRF6 and SRF7 were examined.
[0172] All SRF mutants were obtained from the ARBC as pooled T4 seeds. Individual plants that were homozygous for the insertion were found using gene specific primers (LP and RP) and an insertion specific primer (Lb1). FIG. 1A shows the insertion location of the SRF mutants obtained and studied in this experiment. Both srf6-1 and srf7-1 were found to be null mutations by quantitative real-time RT-PCR using gene specific primers. No expression was found for these two genes. Expression of SRF6 in srf6-2 is like that of wild type plants, as is SRF7 gene expression levels in the srf7-2 mutants. Interestingly in the srf7-3 mutant, the insertion being after the kinase domain, shows a four-fold increase in SRF7 gene expression level compared to the wild type plant (FIG. 5).
[0173] Loss-of-function null mutations (srf6-1 and srf7-1) caused reduced hypocotyl elongation when grown in the dark compared to the wild type and this was similar to procuste1-1 (CesA6 knockout), which shows an exaggerated decrease in hypocotyl length (p<0.01) (FIG. 1). The other mutations of SRF6 and SRF7 did not show a significant difference from the wild type (p>0.05), except srf7-3 that has significantly longer hypocotyls (p<0.05). The srf7-3 mutant contains an insertion after the kinase domain, which presumably truncated the C-terminal amino acid residues (FIG. 1A). The truncated srf7-3 mutant protein may act as a constitutively active mutation and gives rise to this phenotype (FIG. 1). Normal hypocotyl lengths in the srf7-1 mutation were restored by overexpressing the SRF7 gene; this shows that SRF7 being knocked out is responsible for the reduced hypocotyl length of srf7-1 (FIG. 1). The srf6-2 mutant grows to a similar length as the wild type in the dark (FIG. 1B), but shows an increase in sensitivity to isoxaben (p<0.05) (FIG. 2). srf6-2 also has no change in CesA3 or CesA4 gene expression (FIGS. 6 and 7). The srf7-2 mutant dark grown hypocotyl is similar to the wild type (FIG. 1B), and there is no difference in sensitivity to isoxaben (FIG. 2) from that of the wild type either. srf7-2 does have a two-fold increase in both CesA3 and CesA4 gene expression (FIGS. 4.6 and 4.7). The dark grown hypocotyl of srf7-3 is noteworthy because it is one and a half times the length of the wild type (FIG. 1B). srf7-3 is also more sensitive to isoxaben (p<0.05) than the wild type (FIG. 2). This mutant also had increased CesA4 gene expression compared to wild type (FIG. 7).
[0174] SRF6 and SRF7 mutants show altered responses to the cellulose synthesis inhibitor isoxaben.
[0175] Isoxaben is a specific inhibitor of cellulose synthesis by affecting the function of the CesA proteins involved in primary cell wall synthesis, such as CesA3 and CesA6 (Scheible et al., 2001; Persson et al., 2007). Because SRF7 in particular is co-expressed with these same CesA genes the effects of isoxaben on SRF mutants was examined. The mutants with the insertion in the extracellular domain (srf6-1 (SEQ ID NO:53) and srf7-1) were significantly more resistant to isoxaben up to 10 μM (p<0.05) (FIG. 2). Mutants with insertions in the C-terminus or near the kinase domain either showed no difference in isoxaben response (srf7-2) or had increased sensitivity (srf6-2 and srf7-3) to isoxaben (FIG. 2). Overexpression of SRF7 in the srf7-1 mutant showed wild type resistance to isoxaben confirming the complementation of the srf7-1 mutant (FIG. 3). The results which are in agreement with the dark-grown hypocotyl phenotypes of the srf mutants supports the hypothesis that SRF6 and SRF7 regulate CesA-mediated synthesis of the primary cell wall
[0176] Knockout mutations in SRF6 and SRF7 and the full-length overexpression of SRF7 alter cellulose synthase A (CesA) gene expression. Because SRF6 and SRF7 both seemed to be involved in cellulose synthesis as seen by the dark-grown hypocotyl and isoxaben resistance phenotypes of the mutations in the extracellular domain it was tested whether SRF6 and SRF7 regulate the expression of CesA genes. FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 show the level of SRF6 and SRF7 gene expression, respectively, in the SRF mutants. The effect of these mutations on the expression of cellulose synthases (CesAs) was examined. CesA3 and CesA4 were chosen because they are involved in either primary or secondary cell wall synthesis respectively. The primary cell wall synthesis gene, CesA3, expression for mutants of SRF6 was about the same as wild type (FIG. 6). The extracellular domain insertion of SRF7, srf7-1, showed a five-fold reduction in CesA3 gene expression (FIG. 4.6) while the other SRF7 mutations showed an increase in CesA3 gene expression: srf7-2 (2.45 fold), srf7-3 (1.59 fold) and SRF7 (4.14 fold). Overexpression of SRF7 in the srf7-1 mutant also restored CesA3 gene expression to near wild type levels (1.31 fold) (FIG. 6). The expression of the secondary cell wall synthesis gene (CesA4) was different than that of CesA3. First, srf6-1 showed an increase (7.06 fold) in CesA4 gene expression compared to wild type while srf6-2 slightly decreased CesA4 expression (0.73 fold) (FIG. 7). CesA4 gene expression was also altered by srf7 mutations with srf7-1 causing a slight increase in CesA4 gene expression (1.49 fold), and srf7-2 (2.62) and srf7-3 (3.77 fold) inducing higher CesA4 expression. SRF7 overexpression induced the greatest increase in CesA4 gene expression with an 18.70 fold change in expression (FIG. 7).
[0177] The procuste1-1 (prc1-1) mutant was used in the experiment as a primary cell wall deficient control because it is a substitution mutation in the CesA6 cellulose synthase gene that along with CesA1 and CesA3 are responsible for primary cell wall cellulose synthesis. This mutant exhibits a short thick dark grown hypocotyl that ectopically accumulates lignin (Hématy et al, 2007). The murus10-2 (mur10-2) mutant was used as secondary cell wall specific CesA control. The mur10-2 mutation is a substitution mutation in CesA7, that along with CesA4 and CesA8 are responsible for secondary cell wall cellulose synthesis (Persson et al., 2007). In this mutant there is no dark grown morphology, but biomechanical analysis has shows a significant reduction in tensile strength compared to the wild type plants (Bosca et al., 2006).
[0178] The CesA gene expression was examined in two CesA mutants, prc1-1 (CesA6) and mur10-2 (CesA7). CesA3 and CesA4 expression in mur10-2 were found to be 0.37 and 0.04 fold change respectively. These real-time PCR results are similar to the semi-quantitative RT-PCR values for mur10-2 stated in Bosca et al. (Bosca et al., 2006). For the prc1-1 mutant CesA3 gene expression increased 2.28 fold and CesA4 gene expression increased 3.23 fold.
[0179] This study was the first to show that mutations in a receptor-like kinase can have an effect on cellulose synthase gene expression, and that these mutants have similar biochemical and morphological phenotypes to known cellulose deficient mutants. Also, the overexpression of SRF7 results in increased cellulose deposition and CesA gene expression.
[0180] Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy reveals differences in cellular composition of SRF mutants. Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy was used as a means to determine the relative (to wild type) amounts of the cell wall components, pectin and cellulose, in the various SRF mutants. All plant materials were grown for 4-days in darkness on MS media without sucrose. The CesA mutants prc1-1 and mur10-2 using FT-IR microspectroscopy were examined and found that mur10-2 showed no statistical difference (p>0.05) compared to the wild type while prc1-1 had increased pectic polysaccharide bonds (3.75, p<0.001 and carbohydrates (p<0.01) and reduced pectic carboxalate (−4.88, p<0.001) and amide bonds (−7.76, p<0.001) (Table 4.3). This indicates a decrease in poly-glycosidic bonds associated with the decrease in primary cell wall cellulose synthase activity in prc1-1. The lack of a difference between the wild type and the mur10-2 mutant can be explained by MUR10s function in secondary cell wall cellulose synthesis that does not affect the primary cell wall composition. In the srf6-1 and srf7-1 mutants there is a reduction in both poly-glycosidic bonds (srf6-1: −6.08, p<0.001 and srf7-1: −3.45, p<0.005) as well as in pectic polysaccharides, pectic carboxylates and pectic amide bonds (Table 3). Both srf7-2 and srf7-3 show increases in carbohydrate bonds but no increase in glycosidic bonds, while SRF7 shows a significant increase in glycosidic bonds (2.38. p<0.05) as well as an increase in carbohydrates, indicating that overexpression of SRF7 induced an increase in cellulose (Table 4.3). FIG. 4.8 shows the data collected from the FT-IR microspectrophotometer before and after normalization and baseline correction using the MATLab program generated for us by Dr. Karen Xu, UC, Riverside Statistics Department (Appendix 2). FIG. 9 shows principal component analysis (PCA) performed for DN-srf7, srf7-1 and wild type (Col-0). The PCA figure show that both the DN mutant and the knockout have much more similarity to each other then they do to the wild type. This is convincing evidence that the DN works similarly to a knock out as well as that these two mutations are significantly different in cell wall composition then the wild type and in a similar way.
[0181] 
[00008] [TABLE-US-00008]
  TABLE 3
 
  Analysis of Fourier Transform-Infrared (FT-IR)
  Microspectroscopy of SRF7 mutants. Wavenumbers for known cell wall
  components: pectins, cellulose and carbohydrates were examined to
  determine if there was a statistically different quantity of pectin
  or cellulose in the SRF mutants and in known cellulose synthases
  prc1-1 (CesA6) and mur10-2 (CesA7).
  Student's t-test significance = p-value < 0.05, ns = not significant.
 
 
    Wavenumber   srf7-1   srf7-2   srf7-3   SRF-7
  Bond type(cm−1)   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value
 
  Pectic Polysaccharide   1,677   0.001   −3.80   2.4E−06   −6.51   0.002   −3.66   ns   0.35
    1,639   ns   −1.44   ns   −0.57   0.019   2.56   ns   0.49
  Pectic Carboxylate   1,554   6.5E−06   −6.36   7.7E−07   −7.84   0.018   −2.61   9.5E−09   −12.06
  Pectic Amide   1,496   4.3E−06   −6.40   2.1E−08   −10.70   3.9E−05   −5.27   2.8E−09   −15.07
  Poly-glycosidic   1,157   0.002   −3.45   ns   −0.59   ns   0.47   0.032   2.38
  Carbohydrate   1,060   ns   0.68   1.12E−04    5.17   0.001   4.03   2.3E−08   11.07
    1,049   ns   0.18   5.37E−04    4.41   0.002   3.73   3.4E−08   10.54
    1,041   ns   −0.23   0.002   3.79   0.003   3.56   4.3E−08   10.28
 
    srf6-1   srf6-2   prc1-1 (CesA6)   mur10-2 (CesA7)
  Bond type   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value   p-value   t-value
 
  Pectic Polysaccharide   1.87E−10   −11.79   ns   −1.25   ns   −1.87   ns   −0.12
    3.88E−04   −4.22   ns   1.71   8.12E−04   3.75   ns   −0.44
  Pectic Carboxylate   4.264E−10    −10.98   0.001   −3.63   7.50E−05   −4.88   ns   0.77
  Pectic Amide   4.055E−10    −10.95   4.38E−06   −5.56   1.22E−07   −7.76   ns   1.13
  Poly-glycosidic   8.01E−06   −6.08   ns   −1.05   ns   −1.65   ns   0.20
  Carbohydrate   0.024   2.46   ns   1.02   4.06E−05   4.66   ns   0.42
    ns   1.72   ns   0.77   1.81E−04   4.16   ns   0.41
    ns   0.96   ns   0.56   1.23E−03   3.50   ns   0.44
 
[0182] 
[00009] [TABLE-US-00009]
  TABLE 4
 
  Monosaccharide analysis for DN-srf7 and wild type (Col-0).
    DN-SRF7   Col-0
      NaOH   NaOH   Imid   NaOH   NaOH
    Imid Sol   Sol   Insol   Sol   Sol   Insol
  Sugar   mol %   mol %   mol %   mol %   mol %   mol %
 
  3-0-me Rha   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.00
  Ara   14.68   8.56   1.33   6.78   7.95   0.86
  Rha   9.52   9.42   1.30   9.64   9.03   1.09
  Fuc   3.73   2.87   0.18   1.79   2.59   0.18
  Xyl   6.76   20.53   3.44   2.53   14.86   1.98
  GlcU   13.22   2.16   1.10   8.09   3.00   0.88
  4-0-me GlcU   0.65   0.00   0.00   2.26   1.24   0.02
  GalU   31.76   30.87   1.90   43.95   33.10   0.65
  Man   4.08   5.14   0.90   1.75   4.22   1.36
  Gal   11.77   12.84   1.87   17.83   14.29   1.80
  Glc   3.83   7.61   87.99   5.37   9.72   91.17
 
[0183] Monosaccharide analysis of DN-srf7 reveals differences in cell wall components. Utilizing the dominant negative SRF7 line the monosaccharide composition of the cell wall was examined. There are three principal fractions isolated in this experiment and they are: imidizole soluble, sodium hydroxide soluble, and the sodium hydroxide insoluble fraction. These respectively contain the pectin, hemicellulose and cellulose components of the initial cell wall. Table 4 has the molar percent (mol %) of the monosaccharides determined in each fraction for both the DN and wild type plants. Because cellulose is primarily made from beta linked glucoses (glc), that would be found in the sodium hydroxide insoluble fraction it can be seen that for the DN (87.99 mol %) is less then wild type (91.17 mol %). The difference of 3.18 mol % is significant but based on the dark grown phenotype of the DN and the CesA gene expression levels, this difference is potentially much greater in the knockouts of SRF6 and SRF7. There are some notable differences in the DN and wild type in the imidazole soluble fraction as well. In the imidazole, pectin, fraction the DN has much more arabinose (ara), fructose (fuc) and xylose (xyl) then the wild type. These are normal sugars that comprise the pectin portion of the cell wall along with pectic proteins. It has been shown previously that a reduction in cellulose production can increase both lignin and pectin in the cell wall as a means to counter balance the structural absence of cellulose.
[0184] Analysis of public microarray database, Genevestigator, correlates primary cell wall synthesis gene expression with SRF gene expression. In examining the gene expression of the SRF mutants it was found that there was a large difference in CesA gene expression when plants were grown in total darkness compared to when they were grown under a diurnal cycle. To examine if these genes were expressed differently in the dark than that from the light the public microarray database, Genevestigator, was used to examine gene expression. RLK and CesA gene expression levels were also examined when exposed to the primary cell wall inhibitor isoxaben. FIG. 10A shows the expression of BRI1, SRF3, SRF6, SRF7 and SERK1 under a diurnal cycle. BRI1, SRF6 and SRF7 all show a change in gene expression. The patterns are similar in that there is higher gene expression in the dark and dips drastically at the first sign of light then begin to increase again. There is no such change in gene expression in either SERK1 or the SRF gene family member SRF3. In FIG. 10C the diurnal gene expression of all 10 CesA genes can be seen. It is interesting to note that the only CesA gene that show a diurnal pattern are the genes involved in primary cell wall synthesis (CesA 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6), while those required for secondary cell wall synthesis (CesA 4, 7 and 8) have no change at all. It has been shown that the chemical isoxaben is a specific inhibitor of cellulose synthesis and that it primarily affects CesA3 and CesA6 function. It also appears that isoxaben reduces primary cell wall CesA gene expression but not the secondary cell wall CesAs (FIG. 10D). Interestingly one of the SRFs shown to be responsible in cell wall gene expression and cellulose deposition, SRF6, also has reduced gene expression upon isoxaben treatment (FIG. 10B).
[0185] A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.
(57)

Claims

1. An isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain of an SRF-6 polypeptide, wherein the SRF-6 lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain is resistant to inhibition by isoxaben, and wherein the truncated polypeptide induces increased CesA4 expression relative to the full length endogenous SRF-6 polypeptide, wherein the SRF-6 polypeptide comprises at least 95% identity to SEQ ID NO: 2.
2. The isolated polynucleotide of claim 1, wherein the polynucleotide comprises at least 95% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 53.
3. An isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain of an SRF-7 polypeptide, wherein the SRF-7 lacking all or a fragment of the extracellular domain is resistant to inhibition by isoxaben and wherein the truncated polypeptide induces increased CesA4 expression relative to the full length endogenous SRF-7 polypeptide, wherein the SRF 7 comprises at least 95% identity to SEQ ID NO: 4.
4. The polynucleotide of claim 1, lacking all or a fragment of the C-terminal domain of the SRF-6 polypeptide.
5. The polynucleotide of claim 3, lacking all or a fragment of the C-terminal domain of the SRF-7 polypeptide.
6. A polypeptide encoded by the polynucleotides of any one of claims 1-3.
7. A vector comprising the polynucleotide of any one of claims 1-3.
8. A host cell transformed with the polynucleotide of any one of claims 1-3.
9. A host cell transformed with a vector of claim 7.
10. The host cell of claim 8, wherein the host cell is a plant cell.
11. The host cell of claim 9, wherein the host cell is a plant cell.
12. A transgenic plant comprising homozygous expression of the polynucleotide of any one of claims 1-3, wherein the transgenic plant comprises increased cellulose production compared to a wild-type plant.
*****

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