TCP6, a regulator in Arabidopsis Gametophyte development and DNA damage response
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Plants have developed intricate mechanisms to control growth in response to a variety of environmental cues, to compensate its immobility and to survive in both normal and adverse conditions. The TCP proteins are a family of plant-specific, basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors that involve in different aspects in plant growth and developmental control. The Arabidopsis TCP20 has been shown to involve in coordinating cell growth and proliferation, and in growth arrest in response to DNA double-stranded breaks (DSB). In this thesis, the main interest is to examine the function of Arabidopsis TCP6, which shares the highest homology with TCP20, and like TCP20, contains a putative ATM phosphorylation motif that suggests potential involvement in the ATM/ATR-mediated DSB responses. Expressional analysis including transcript measurement and reporter gene tagging demonstrated that TCP6 is expressed in flowers, in particular in the first mitotic event of pollen and ovule/embryo sac development, indicating that TCP6 potentially involves in regulating the mitotic cell cycle during gametophyte development. Yet no gametophytic or fertility-affecting mutant phenotype was observed in the tcp6 single and tcp6/tcp20 double mutants, which may be due to high functional redundancy. The tcp6/tcp20 double mutant seedlings exhibited significantly higher growth performances in true leaf growth compared to wild type when treated with gamma radiation, implying that both functional TCP6 and TCP20 are involved in response to gamma radiation-generated DSBs. The work of this thesis provides the first expressional and functional characterizations of TCP6, with the results suggesting that TCP6 and other class I TCPs play a role in regulating growth under both normal and stress conditions.