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Soybean (Glycine max) WRINKLED1 transcription factor, GmWRI1a, positively regulates seed oil accumulation


Soybean is the world’s most important leguminous crop producing high-quality protein and oil. Elevating oil accumulation in soybean seed is always many researchers’ goal. WRINKLED1 (WRI1) encodes a transcription factor of the APETALA2/ethylene responsive element-binding protein (AP2/EREBP) family that plays important roles during plant seed oil accumulation. In this study, we isolated and characterized three distinct orthologues of WRI1 in soybean (Glycine max) that display different organ-specific expression patterns, among which GmWRI1a was highly expressed in maturing soybean seed. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and yeast one-hybrid experiments demonstrated that the GmWRI1a protein was capable of binding to AW-box, a conserved sequence in the proximal upstream regions of many genes involved in various steps of oil biosynthesis. Transgenic soybean seeds overexpressing GmWRI1a under the control of the seed-specific napin promoter showed the increased total oil and fatty acid content and the changed fatty acid composition. Furthermore, basing on the activated expressions in transgenic soybean seeds and existence of AW-box element in the promoter regions, direct downstream genes of GmWRI1a were identified, and their products were responsible for fatty acid production, elongation, desaturation and export from plastid. We conclude that GmWRI1a transcription factor can positively regulate oil accumulation in soybean seed by a complex gene expression network related to fatty acid biosynthesis.

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APETALA2/ethylene responsive element-binding protein


Cauliflower mosaic virus


Days after flowering


Electrophoretic mobility shift assay


Fatty acid


Open reading frame


Quantitative real-time PCR




Transcription factor




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The authors thank the Science and Technology Development Program of Jilin Province (Grant No. 20150520121JH), the Special Foundation for Fostering Talents of Jilin Province (2017–2019), the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Project of Jilin Province (Grant No. CXGC2017ZY007 & CXGC2017TD018), Modern Agricultural Industry Technology System (Grant No. CARS-004-PS11), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31301347) and Key Laboratory of Soybean Biology in Northeast Agricultural University (Grant No. SB16A01) for funding this project.

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Correspondence to Zhimin Dong or Shuming Wang.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Communicated by S. Hohmann.

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Chen, L., Zheng, Y., Dong, Z. et al. Soybean (Glycine max) WRINKLED1 transcription factor, GmWRI1a, positively regulates seed oil accumulation. Mol Genet Genomics 293, 401–415 (2018).

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  • Soybean (Glycine max)
  • Seed oil
  • WRI1
  • AP2/EREBP transcription factor
  • Fatty acid biosynthesis
  • Transcriptional machinery