G3 (Bethesda) (Jun 8 2018)
Polyglutamine (polyQ) stretches have been reported to occur in proteins across many organisms including animals, fungi and plants. Expansion of these repeats has attracted much attention due their associations with numerous human diseases including Huntington’s and other neurological maladies. This suggests that the relative length of polyQ stretches is an important modulator of their function. Here, we report the identification of a Populus C-terminus binding protein (CtBP) ANGUSTIFOLIA (PtAN1) which contains a polyQ stretch whose functional relevance had not been established. Analysis of 917 resequenced Populus trichocarpa genotypes revealed three allelic variants at this locus encoding 11-, 13- and 15-glutamine residues. Transient expression assays using Populus leaf mesophyll protoplasts revealed that the 11Q variant exhibited strong nuclear localization whereas the 15Q variant was only found in the cytosol, with the 13Q variant exhibiting localization in both subcellular compartments. We assessed functional implications by evaluating expression changes of putative PtAN1 targets in response to overexpression of the three allelic variants and observed allele-specific differences in expression levels of putative targets. Our results provide evidence that variation in polyQ length modulates PtAN1 function by altering subcellular localization.