JOURNAL ARTICLE

Characterization of transcription factor gene SNAC2 conferring cold and salt tolerance in rice

Honghong Hu, Jun You, Yujie Fang, Xiaoyi Zhu, Zhuyun Qi, Lizhong Xiong
Plant Molecular Biology 2008, 67 (1-2): 169-81
18273684
Plants respond to adverse environment by initiating a series of signaling processes including activation of transcription factors that can regulate expression of arrays of genes for stress response and adaptation. NAC (NAM, ATAF, and CUC) is a plant specific transcription factor family with diverse roles in development and stress regulation. In this report, a stress-responsive NAC gene (SNAC2) isolated from upland rice IRA109 (Oryza sativa L. ssp japonica) was characterized for its role in stress tolerance. SNAC2 was proven to have transactivation and DNA-binding activities in yeast and the SNAC2-GFP fusion protein was localized in the rice nuclei. Northern blot and SNAC2 promoter activity analyses suggest that SNAC2 gene was induced by drought, salinity, cold, wounding, and abscisic acid (ABA) treatment. The SNAC2 gene was over-expressed in japonica rice Zhonghua 11 to test the effect on improving stress tolerance. More than 50% of the transgenic plants remained vigorous when all WT plants died after severe cold stress (4-8 degrees C for 5 days). The transgenic plants had higher cell membrane stability than wild type during the cold stress. The transgenic rice had significantly higher germination and growth rate than WT under high salinity conditions. Over-expression of SNAC2 can also improve the tolerance to PEG treatment. In addition, the SNAC2-overexpressing plants showed significantly increased sensitivity to ABA. DNA chip profiling analysis of transgenic plants revealed many up-regulated genes related to stress response and adaptation such as peroxidase, ornithine aminotransferase, heavy metal-associated protein, sodium/hydrogen exchanger, heat shock protein, GDSL-like lipase, and phenylalanine ammonia lyase. Interestingly, none of the up-regulated genes in the SNAC2-overexpressing plants matched the genes up-regulated in the transgenic plants over-expressing other stress responsive NAC genes reported previously. These data suggest SNAC2 is a novel stress responsive NAC transcription factor that possesses potential utility in improving stress tolerance of rice.

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