MYC2 Regulates the Termination of Jasmonate Signaling via an Autoregulatory Negative Feedback Loop

In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), as in other plants, the immunity hormone jasmonate (JA) triggers genome-wide transcriptional changes in response to pathogen and insect attack. These changes are largely regulated by the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor MYC2. The function of MYC2 depends on its physical interaction with the MED25 subunit of the Mediator transcriptional coactivator complex. Although much has been learned about the MYC2-dependent transcriptional activation of JA-responsive genes, relatively less studied is the termination of JA-mediated transcriptional responses and the underlying mechanisms. Here, we report an unexpected function of MYC2 in regulating the termination of JA signaling through activating a small group of JA-inducible bHLH proteins, termed MYC2-TARGETED BHLH1 (MTB1), MTB2, and MTB3. MTB proteins negatively regulate JA-mediated transcriptional responses via their antagonistic effects on the functionality of the MYC2-MED25 transcriptional activation complex. MTB proteins impair the formation of the MYC2-MED25 complex and compete with MYC2 to bind to its target gene promoters. Therefore, MYC2 and MTB proteins form an autoregulatory negative feedback circuit to terminate JA signaling in a highly organized manner. We provide examples demonstrating that gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 open up new avenues to exploit MTB genes for crop protection.

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