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A wheat histone variant gene TaH2A.7 enhances drought tolerance and promotes stomatal closure in Arabidopsis

Xu, Wenjing, Li, Yongchao, Cheng, Zhaohui, Xia, Guangmin, Wang, Mengcheng
Plant cell reports 2016 v.35 no.9 pp. 1853-1862
Arabidopsis, abscisic acid, breeding, chromatin, drought tolerance, epigenetics, gene overexpression, genes, guard cells, histones, hydrogen peroxide, messenger RNA, osmotic stress, oxidative stress, signal transduction, stomatal movement, stress response, stress tolerance, transcription (genetics), wheat
KEY MESSAGE : We found a histone variant enhances drought tolerance partially via promoting stomatal closure other than osmotic stress resistance, indicating the crucial and complicated contribution of epigenetic regulation to abiotic stress response. Histone variants epigenetically regulate gene transcription through remodeling chromatin. They have been implicated in modulating plant abiotic stress response, however, the role(s) is not well documented. Here, we identified an abiotic stress responsive H2A variant gene TaH2A.7 from wheat. TaH2A.7 shared high identity with H2A homologs and localized to the nucleus. TaH2A.7 overexpression in Arabidopsis significantly enhanced drought tolerance, but had no effect on the response to saline, osmotic and oxidative stresses. TaH2A.7 lowered water loss rate, and promoted ABA-induced stomatal closure. In TaH2A.7 overexpression plants, the mRNA levels of numerous genes involved in the ABA pathway and stomatal movement signaling pathway were elevated, H₂O₂ level in guard cells was increased, as well. Together, TaH2A.7 can enhance drought tolerance via, at least in part, promoting stomatal closure, and appears to be a promising target for molecular breeding.