Kalsi HS et al.
We demonstrate a new regulatory mechanism in the jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) mediated crosstalk in potato defense response, wherein, miR160 target StARF16 (a gene involved in growth and development) binds to the promoter of StNPR1 (a defense gene) and negatively regulates its expression to suppress the SA pathway. Overall, our study establishes the importance of StARF16 in regulation of StNPR1 during JA mediated defense response upon necrotrophic pathogen interaction. Plants employ antagonistic crosstalk between salicylic acid (SA) and jasmonic acid (JA) to effectively defend them from pathogens. During biotrophic pathogen attack, SA pathway activates and suppresses the JA pathway via NONEXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES 1 (NPR1). However, upon necrotrophic pathogen attack, how JA-mediated defense response suppresses the SA pathway, is still not well-understood. Recently StARF10 (AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR), a miR160 target, has been shown to regulate SA and binds to the promoter of StGH3.6 (GRETCHEN HAGEN3), a gene proposed to maintain the balance between the free SA and auxin in plants. In the current study, we investigated the role of StARF16 (a miR160 target) in the regulation of the defense gene StNPR1 in potato upon activation of the JA pathway. We observed that a negative correlation exists between StNPR1 and StARF16 upon infection with the pathogen. The results were further confirmed through the exogenous application of SA and JA. Using yeast one-hybrid assay, we demonstrated that StARF16 binds to the StNPR1 promoter through putative ARF binding sites. Additionally, through protoplast transfection and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, we showed that StARF16 could bind to the StNPR1 promoter and regulate its expression. Co-transfection assays using promoter deletion constructs established that ARF binding sites are present in the 2.6 kb sequence upstream to the StNPR1 gene and play a key role in its regulation during infection. In summary, we demonstrate the importance of StARF16 in the regulation of StNPR1, and thus SA pathway, during JA-mediated defense response upon necrotrophic pathogen interaction.