Functional analysis of rice DREB1/CBF-type transcription factors involved in cold-responsive gene expression in transgenic rice

Yusuke Ito, Koji Katsura, Kyonoshin Maruyama, Teruaki Taji, Masatomo Kobayashi, Motoaki Seki, Kazuo Shinozaki, Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki
Plant & Cell Physiology 2006, 47 (1): 141-53
The transcription factors dehydration-responsive element-binding protein 1s (DREB1s)/C-repeat-binding factors (CBFs) specifically interact with the DRE/CRT cis-acting element and control the expression of many stress-inducible genes in Arabidopsis. The genes for DREB1 orthologs, OsDREB1A and OsDREB1B from rice, are induced by cold stress, and overexpression of DREB1 or OsDREB1 induced strong expression of stress-responsive genes in transgenic Arabidopsis plants, resulting in increased tolerance to high-salt and freezing stresses. In this study, we generated transgenic rice plants overexpressing the OsDREB1 or DREB1 genes. These transgenic rice plants showed not only growth retardation under normal growth conditions but also improved tolerance to drought, high-salt and low-temperature stresses like the transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing OsDREB1 or DREB1. We also detected elevated contents of osmoprotectants such as free proline and various soluble sugars in the transgenic rice as in the transgenic Arabidopsis plants. We identified target stress-inducible genes of OsDREB1A in the transgenic rice using microarray and RNA gel blot analyses. These genes encode proteins that are thought to function in stress tolerance in the plants. These results indicate that the DREB1/CBF cold-responsive pathway is conserved in rice and the DREB1-type genes are quite useful for improvement of stress tolerance to environmental stresses in various kinds of transgenic plants including rice.

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