GW5 acts in the brassinosteroid signalling pathway to regulate grain width and weight in rice

  • Nature Plants 3, Article number: 17043 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/nplants.2017.43
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Grain size is a major determinant of grain yield in cereal crops. qSW5/GW5, which exerts the greatest effect on rice grain width and weight, was fine-mapped to a 2,263-bp/21-kb genomic region containing a 1,212-bp deletion, respectively. Here, we show that a gene encoding a calmodulin binding protein, located 5 kb downstream of the 1,212-bp deletion, corresponds to qSW5/GW5. GW5 is expressed in various rice organs, with highest expression level detected in young panicles. We provide evidence that the 1,212-bp deletion affects grain width most likely through influencing the expression levels of GW5. GW5 protein is localized to the plasma membrane and can physically interact with and repress the kinase activity of rice GSK2 (glycogen synthase kinase 2), a homologue of Arabidopsis BIN2 (BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE2) kinase, resulting in accumulation of unphosphorylated OsBZR1 (Oryza sativa BRASSINAZOLE RESISTANT1) and DLT (DWARF AND LOW-TILLERING) proteins in the nucleus to mediate brassinosteroid (BR)-responsive gene expression and growth responses (including grain width and weight). Our results suggest that GW5 is a novel positive regulator of BR signalling and a viable target for genetic manipulation to improve grain yield in rice and perhaps in other cereal crops as well.

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We thank C. Chu (Chinese Academy of Sciences) for kindly providing the Go and Gi transgenic seeds; we thank X.W. Deng (Peking University), C. Wu (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences) and J. Zhou (Frontier Laboratories of Systems Crop Design) for technical support. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 91535302 and No. 31430008), National Key Research and Development Plan (2016YFD0100400) and National Transformation Science and Technology Program (2014ZX08001006).

Author information

Author notes

    • Jiafan Liu
    •  & Jun Chen

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Institute of Crop Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China

    • Jiafan Liu
    • , Jun Chen
    • , Xiaoming Zheng
    • , Fuqing Wu
    • , Qibing Lin
    • , Yueqin Heng
    • , Peng Tian
    • , ZhiJun Cheng
    • , Xin Zhang
    • , Xiuping Guo
    • , Jiulin Wang
    • , Haiyang Wang
    •  & Jianmin Wan
  2. National key Laboratory for Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Jiangsu Plant Gene Engineering Research Center, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China

    • Xiaowen Yu
    • , Kunneng Zhou
    •  & Jianmin Wan


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J.L. and J.C. performed most of the experiments; X.Zheng performed the analysis of molecular evolution; F.W., Q.L, Y.H., P.T., Z.C. and X.Y. provided technical assistance; K.Z. performed some of the sub-cellular localization assay; X.Zhang and X.G. generated the transgenic plants; J.Wang cultivated the transgenic plants in the field; J.Wan and H.W. supervised the project; J.Wan, H.W. and J.L. designed the research and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Haiyang Wang or Jianmin Wan.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–22, Supplementary Tables 1 and 3, Legend for Supplementary Table 2.

Excel files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Table 2

    List of SNP's in 6.3-kb upstream region of GW5.