We report here the cloning and characterization of a soybean receptor-like kinase (RLK) gene, designated GmSARK (Glycine max senescence-associated receptor-like kinase), which is involved in regulating leaf senescence. The conceptual protein product of GmSARK contains typical domains of LRR receptor-like kinases: a cytoplasmic domain with all the 11 kinase subdomains, a transmembrane domain and an extracelullar domain containing 9 Leucine-Rich Repeat (LRR) units that may act as a receptor. The expression of GmSARK in soybean leaves was up-regulated in all the three tested senescence systems: senescing cotyledons, dark-induced primary leaf senescence and the natural leaf senescence process after florescence. Furthermore, the RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knocking-down of GmSARK dramatically retarded soybean leaf senescence. A more complex thylakoid membrane system, higher foliar level of chlorophyll content and a very remarkable delay of senescence-induced disintegration of chloroplast structure were observed in GmSARK-RNAi transgenic leaves. A homolog of maize lethal leaf-spot 1 gene, which has been suggested to encode a key enzyme catalyzing chlorophyll breakdown, was isolated and nominated Gmlls1. The expression level of Gmgtr1 gene, which encodes a key enzyme of chlorophyll synthesis, was also analyzed. It was found that Gmlls1 was up-regulated and Gmgtr1 was down-regulated during senescence in wild-type soybean leaves. However, both of the up-regulation of Gmlls1 and down-regulation of Gmgtr1 were retarded during senescence of GmSARK-RNAi transgenic leaves. In addition, over-expression of the GmSARK gene greatly accelerated the senescence progression of CaMV 35S:GmSARK transgenic plants. Taken together, these results strongly suggested the involvement of this LRR-RLK in regulation of soybean leaf senescence, maybe via regulating chloroplast development and chlorophyll accumulation. Multiple functions of GmSARK besides its regulation of leaf senescence were also discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 27, 2006
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