Basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor from wild rice (OrbHLH2) improves tolerance to salt- and osmotic stress in Arabidopsis

Jing Zhou, Fei Li, Jin-Lan Wang, Yun Ma, Kang Chong, Yun-yuan Xu
Journal of Plant Physiology 2009 August 15, 166 (12): 1296-306
Salt stress adversely affects plant growth and development. Some plants reduce the damage of high-salt stress by expressing a series of salt-responsive genes. Studies of the molecular mechanism of the salt-stress response have focused on the characterization of components involved in signal perception and transduction. In the present work, we cloned and characterized a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) encoding gene, OrbHLH2, from wild rice (Oryza rufipogon), which encodes a homologue protein of ICE1 in Arabidopsis. OrbHLH2 protein localized in the nucleus. Overexpression of OrbHLH2 in Arabidopsis conferred increased tolerance to salt and osmotic stress, and the stress-responsive genes DREB1A/CBF3, RD29A, COR15A and KIN1 were upregulated in transgenic plants. Abscisic acid (ABA) treatment showed a similar effect on the seed germination or transcriptional expression of stress-responsive genes in both wild type and OrbHLH2-overexpressed plants, which implies that OrbHLH2 does not depend on ABA in responding to salt stress. OrbHLH2 may function as a transcription factor and positively regulate salt-stress signals independent of ABA in Arabidopsis, which provides some useful data for improving salt tolerance in crops.

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