The soybean GmbZIP1 transcription factor enhances multiple abiotic stress tolerances in transgenic plants

Shi-Qing Gao, Ming Chen, Zhao-Shi Xu, Chang-Ping Zhao, Liancheng Li, Hui-jun Xu, Yi-miao Tang, Xin Zhao, You-Zhi Ma
Plant Molecular Biology 2011, 75 (6): 537-53
Abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive element binding proteins (AREBs) are basic domain/leucine zipper transcription factors that bind to the ABA-responsive element (ABRE) in the promoter regions of ABA-inducible genes in plants. A novel bZIP transcription factor gene, GmbZIP1, encoding 438 amino acids with a conserved bZIP domain composed of 60 amino acids was isolated from salt-tolerant soybean cv. Tiefeng 8. Southern blotting showed that only one copy was present in the soybean genome. Phylogenetic analyses showed that GmbZIP1 belonged to the AREB subfamily of the bZIP family and was most closely related to AtABF2 and OsTRAB1. The expression of GmbZIP1 was highly induced by ABA, drought, high salt and low temperature; and GmbZIP1 was expressed in soybean roots, stems and leaves under different stress conditions. GmbZIP1 was localized inside the nuclei of transformed onion epidermal cells. Overexpression of GmbZIP1 enhanced the responses of transgenic plants to ABA and triggered stomatal closure under stresses, potentially leading to improved tolerances to several abiotic stresses such as high salt, low temperature and drought in transgenic plants. Furthermore, overexpression of GmbZIP1 affected the expression of some ABA or stress-related genes involved in regulating stomatal closure in Arabidopsis under ABA, drought and high salt stress conditions. A few AREB elements were detected in the promoter region of those ABA or stress-related genes, suggesting that GmbZIP1 regulates the ABA response or stomatal closure mediated by those downstream genes in transgenic Arabidopsis. Moreover, GmbZIP1 was used to improve the drought tolerance trait of Chinese wheat varieties BS93. Functional analysis showed that overexpression of GmbZIP1 enhanced the drought tolerance of transgenic wheat, and transcripts of GmbZIP1 were detected in transgenic wheat using RT-PCR. In addition, GmbZIP1 overexpression did not result in growth retardation in all transgenic plants, suggesting that GmbZIP1 may be a valuable genetic resource for engineering stress tolerance of crops.

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