Expression of ethylene response factor JERF1 in rice improves tolerance to drought

Zhijin Zhang, Fang Li, Dingjun Li, Haiwen Zhang, Rongfeng Huang
Planta 2010, 232 (3): 765-74
Ethylene response factor (ERF) proteins regulate a variety of stress responses in plant. JERF1, a tomato ERF protein, can be induced by abscisic acid (ABA). Overexpression of JERF1 enhanced the tolerance of transgenic tobacco to high salt concentration, osmotic stress, and low temperature by regulating the expression of stress-responsive genes by binding to DRE/CRT and GCC-box cis-elements. In this research, we further report that overexpression of JERF1 significantly enhanced drought tolerance of transgenic rice. The overexpression activated the expression of stress-responsive genes and increased the synthesis of the osmolyte proline by regulating the expression of OsP5CS, encoding the proline biosynthesis key enzyme deltal-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase. JERF1 also activated the expression of two ABA biosynthesis key enzyme genes, OsABA2 and Os03g0810800, and increased the synthesis of ABA in rice. Analysis of cis-elements of JERF1-targeted genes pointed to the existence of DRE/CRT and/or GCC box in their promoters, indicating that JERF1 could activate the expression of related genes in rice by binding to these cis-elements. Unlike some other ERF proteins, constructive overexpression of JERF1 did not change the growth and development of transgenic rice, which makes JEFR1 a potentially useful source in breeding for greater tolerance to abiotic stress.

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