Arabidopsis CBF1 and CBF3 have a different function than CBF2 in cold acclimation and define different gene classes in the CBF regulon

Fernando Novillo, Joaquín Medina, Julio Salinas
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 December 26, 104 (52): 21002-7
The C-repeat-binding factor (CBF)/dehydration-responsive element-binding factor (DREB1) proteins constitute a small family of Arabidopsis transcriptional activators (CBF1/DREB1B, CBF2/DREB1C, and CBF3/DREB1A) that play a prominent role in cold acclimation. A fundamental question about these factors that remains to be answered is whether they are functionally equivalent. Recently, we reported that CBF2 negatively regulates CBF1 and CBF3 expression, and that CBFs are subjected to different temporal regulation during cold acclimation, which suggested this might not be the case. In this study, we have analyzed the expression of CBF genes in different tissues of Arabidopsis, during development and in response to low temperature, and characterized RNA interference (RNAi) and antisense lines that fail to accumulate CBF1 or/and CBF3 mRNAs under cold conditions. We found that CBF1 and CBF3 are regulated in a different way than CBF2. Moreover, in contrast to CBF2, CBF1 and CBF3 are not involved in regulating other CBF genes and positively regulate cold acclimation by activating the same subset of CBF-target genes. All these results demonstrate that CBF1 and CBF3 have different functions than CBF2. We also found that the CBF regulon is composed of at least two different kind of genes, one of them requiring the simultaneous expression of both CBF1 and CBF3 to be properly induced. This indicates that CBF1 and CBF3 have a concerted additive effect to induce the whole CBF regulon and the complete development of cold acclimation.

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