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Activated Expression of WRKY57 Confers Drought Tolerance in Arabidopsis

Jiang, Yanjuan, Liang, Gang, Yu, Diqiu
Molecular plant 2012 v.5 no.6 pp. 1375-1388
Arabidopsis, abscisic acid, crops, drought, drought tolerance, environmental factors, gain-of-function mutation, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, genetic analysis, mutants, promoter regions, screening, seed germination, stomatal movement, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, transfer DNA, water stress
Drought is one of the most serious environmental factors that limit the productivity of agricultural crops worldwide. However, the mechanism underlying drought tolerance in plants is unclear. WRKY transcription factors are known to function in adaptation to abiotic stresses. By screening a pool of WRKY-associated T-DNA insertion mutants, we isolated a gain-of-function mutant, acquired drought tolerance (adt), showing improved drought tolerance. Under drought stress conditions, adt accumulated higher levels of ABA than wild-type plants. Stomatal aperture analysis indicated that adt was more sensitive to ABA than wild-type plants. Molecular genetic analysis revealed that a T-DNA insertion in adt led to activated expression of a WRKY gene that encodes the WRKR57 protein. Constitutive expression of WRKY57 also conferred similar drought tolerance. Consistently with the high ABA content and enhanced drought tolerance, three stress-responsive genes (RD29A , NCED3 , and ABA3) were up-regulated in adt . ChIP assays demonstrated that WRKY57 can directly bind the W-box of RD29A and NCED3 promoter sequences. In addition, during ABA treatment, seed germination and early seedling growth of adt were inhibited, whereas, under high osmotic conditions, adt showed a higher seed germination frequency. In summary, our results suggested that the activated expression of WRKY57 improved drought tolerance of Arabidopsis by elevation of ABA levels. Establishment of the functions of WRKY57 will enable improvement of plant drought tolerance through gene manipulation approaches.