Genome-wide analysis of cotton GH3 subfamily II reveals functional divergence in fiber development, hormone response and plant architecture

Daoqian Yu, Ghulam Qanmber, Lili Lu, Lingling Wang, Jie Li, Zhaoen Yang, Zhao Liu, Yi Li, Quanjia Chen, Venugopal Mendu, Fuguang Li, Zuoren Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Auxin-induced genes regulate many aspects of plant growth and development. The Gretchen Hagen 3 (GH3) gene family, one of three major early auxin-responsive families, is ubiquitous in the plant kingdom and its members function as regulators in modulating hormonal homeostasis, and stress adaptations. Specific Auxin-amido synthetase activity of GH3 subfamily II genes is reported to reversibly inactivate or fully degrade excess auxin through the formation of amino acid conjugates. Despite these crucial roles, to date, genome-wide analysis of the GH3 gene family has not been reported in cotton. Results: We identified a total of 10 GH3 subfamily II genes in G. arboreum, 10 in G. raimondii, and 20 in G. hirsutum, respectively. Bioinformatic analysis showed that cotton GH3 genes are conserved with the established GH3s in plants. Expression pattern analysis based on RNA-seq data and qRT-PCR revealed that 20 GhGH3 genes were differentially expressed in a temporally and spatially specific manner, indicating their diverse functions in growth and development. We further summarized the organization of promoter regulatory elements and monitored their responsiveness to treatment with IAA (indole-3-acetic acid), SA (salicylic acid), GA (gibberellic acid) and BL (brassinolide) by qRT-PCR in roots and stems. These hormones seemed to regulate the expression of GH3 genes in both a positive and a negative manner while certain members likely have higher sensitivity to all four hormones. Further, we tested the expression of GhGH3 genes in the BR-deficient mutant pag1 and the corresponding wild-type (WT) of CCRI24. The altered expression reflected the true responsiveness to BL and further suggested possible reasons, at least in part, responsible for the dramatic dwarf and shriveled phenotypes of pag1. Conclusion: We comprehensively identified GH3 subfamily II genes in cotton. GhGH3s are differentially expressed in various tissues/organs/stages. Their response to IAA, SA, BL and GA and altered expression in pag1 suggest that some GhGH3 genes might be simultaneously involved in multiple hormone signaling pathways. Taken together, our results suggest that members of the GhGH3 gene family could be possible candidate genes for mechanistic study and applications in cotton fiber development in addition to the reconstruction of plant architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number350
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2018


  • Expression patterns
  • GH3
  • Gene family
  • Gossypium hirsutum
  • Phytohormone
  • cis-regulatory element


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