A Functional Allele of CsFUL1 Regulates Fruit Length through Repressing CsSUP and Inhibiting Auxin Transport in Cucumber

Fruit length is a prominent agricultural trait during cucumber (Cucumis sativus) domestication and diversifying selection; however, the regulatory mechanisms of fruit elongation remain elusive. We identified two alleles of the FRUITFULL (FUL)–like MADS-box gene CsFUL1 with 3393C/A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism variation among 150 cucumber lines. Whereas CsFUL1A was specifically enriched in the long-fruited East Asian type cucumbers (China and Japan), the CsFUL1C allele was randomly distributed in cucumber populations, including wild and semiwild cucumbers. CsFUL1A knockdown led to further fruit elongation in cucumber, whereas elevated expression of CsFUL1A resulted in significantly shorter fruits. No effect on fruit elongation was detected when CsFUL1C expression was modulated, suggesting that CsFUL1A is a gain-of-function allele in long-fruited cucumber that acts as a repressor during diversifying selection of East Asian cucumbers. Furthermore, CsFUL1A binds to the CArG-box in the promoter region of SUPERMAN, a regulator of cell division and expansion, to repress its expression. Additionally, CsFUL1A inhibits the expression of auxin transporters PIN-FORMED1 (PIN1) and PIN7, resulting in decreases in auxin accumulation in fruits. Together, our work identifies an agriculturally important allele and suggests a strategy for manipulating fruit length in cucumber breeding that involves modulation of CsFUL1A expression.

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