Functional analysis of a NAC-type transcription factor OsNAC6 involved in abiotic and biotic stress-responsive gene expression in rice

Kazuo Nakashima, Lam-Son P Tran, Dong Van Nguyen, Miki Fujita, Kyonoshin Maruyama, Daisuke Todaka, Yusuke Ito, Nagao Hayashi, Kazuo Shinozaki, Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki
Plant Journal 2007, 51 (4): 617-30
The OsNAC6 gene is a member of the NAC transcription factor gene family in rice. Expression of OsNAC6 is induced by abiotic stresses, including cold, drought and high salinity. OsNAC6 gene expression is also induced by wounding and blast disease. A transactivation assay using a yeast system demonstrated that OsNAC6 functions as a transcriptional activator, and transient localization studies with OsNAC6-sGFP fusion protein revealed its nuclear localization. Transgenic rice plants over-expressing OsNAC6 constitutively exhibited growth retardation and low reproductive yields. These transgenic rice plants showed an improved tolerance to dehydration and high-salt stresses, and also exhibited increased tolerance to blast disease. By utilizing stress-inducible promoters, such as the OsNAC6 promoter, it is hoped that stress-inducible over-expression of OsNAC6 in rice can improve stress tolerance by suppressing the negative effects of OsNAC6 on growth under normal growth conditions. The results of microarray analysis revealed that many genes that are inducible by abiotic and biotic stresses were upregulated in rice plants over-expressing OsNAC6. A transient transactivation assay showed that OsNAC6 activates the expression of at least two genes, including a gene encoding peroxidase. Collectively, these results indicate that OsNAC6 functions as a transcriptional activator in response to abiotic and biotic stresses in plants. We conclude that OsNAC6 may serve as a useful biotechnological tool for the improvement of stress tolerance in various kinds of plants.

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