GRAS transcription factors usually act as integrators of multiple growth regulatory and environmental signals, including axillary shoot meristem formation, root radial pattering, phytohormones, light signaling, and abiotic/biotic stress. However, little is known about this gene family in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), the most important model plant for crop species with fleshy fruits.
In this study, 53 GRAS genes were identified and renamed based on tomato whole-genome sequence and their respective chromosome distribution except 19 members were kept as their already existed name. Multiple sequence alignment showed typical GRAS domain in these proteins. Phylogenetic analysis of GRAS proteins from tomato, Arabidopsis, Populus, P.mume, and Rice revealed that SlGRAS proteins could be divided into at least 13 subfamilies. SlGRAS24 and SlGRAS40 were identified as target genes of miR171 using5'-RACE (Rapid amplification of cDNA ends). qRT-PCR analysis revealed tissue-/organ- and development stage-specific expression patterns of SlGRAS genes. Moreover, their expression patterns in response to different hormone and abiotic stress treatments were also investigated.
This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of GRAS gene family in the tomato genome. The data will undoubtedly be useful for better understanding the potential functions of GRAS genes, and their possible roles in mediating hormone cross-talk and abiotic stress in tomato as well as in some other relative species.