Glyceollin Transcription Factor GmMYB29A2 Regulates Soybean Resistance to Phytophthora sojae

Glyceollin isomers I, II, and III are the major pathogen-elicited secondary metabolites (i.e. phytoalexins) of soybean (Glycine max) that, collectively with other 5-deoxyisoflavonoids, provide race-specific resistance to Phytophthora sojae. The NAC-family transcription factor (TF) GmNAC42-1 is an essential regulator of some but not all glyceollin biosynthesis genes, indicating other essential TF(s) of the glyceollin gene regulatory network remain to be identified. Here, we conducted comparative transcriptomics on soybean hairy roots of the variety Williams 82 and imbibing seeds of Harosoy 63 upon treatment with wall glucan elicitor from P. sojae and identified two homologous R2R3-type MYB TF genes, GmMYB29A1 and GmMYB29A2, up-regulated during the times of peak glyceollin biosynthesis. Overexpression and RNA interference silencing of GmMYB29A2 increased and decreased expression of GmNAC42-1, GmMYB29A1, and glyceollin biosynthesis genes and metabolites, respectively, in response to wall glucan elicitor. By contrast, overexpressing or silencing GmMYB29A1 decreased glyceollin I accumulation with marginal or no effects on the expressions of glyceollin synthesis genes, suggesting a preferential role in promoting glyceollin turnover and/or competing biosynthetic pathways. GmMYB29A2 interacted with the promoters of two glyceollin I biosynthesis genes in vitro and in vivo. Silencing GmMYB29A2 in Williams 82, a soybean variety that encodes the resistance gene Rps1k, rendered it compatible with race 1 P. sojae, whereas overexpressing GmMYB29A2 rendered the susceptible Williams variety incompatible. Compatibility and incompatibility coincided with reduced and enhanced accumulations of glyceollin I but not other 5-deoxyisoflavonoids. Thus, GmMYB29A2 is essential for accumulation of glyceollin I and expression of Phytophthora resistance.

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