A Glycine soja ABA-responsive receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase, GsRLCK, positively controls plant tolerance to salt and drought stresses

XiaoLi Sun, Mingzhe Sun, Xiao Luo, XiaoDong Ding, Wei Ji, Hua Cai, Xi Bai, XiaoFei Liu, YanMing Zhu
Planta 2013, 237 (6): 1527-45
Receptor such as protein kinases are proposed to work as sensors to initiate signaling cascades in higher plants. However, little is known about the precise functions of receptor such as protein kinases in abiotic stress response in plants, especially in wild soybean. Here, we focused on characterization of the biological functions of a receptor-like cytoplasmic serine/threonine protein kinase gene, GsRLCK, which was previously identified as a putative salt-alkali stress-related gene from the transcriptome profiles of Glycine soja. Bioinformatic analysis showed that GsRLCK protein contained a conserved kinase catalytic domain and two transmembrane domains at the N-terminus, but no typical extracellular domain. Consistently, GsRLCK-eGFP fusion protein was observed on the plasma membrane, but eGFP alone was distributing throughout the cytoplasm in onion epidermal cells. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed the induced expression of GsRLCK by ABA, salt, alkali, and drought stresses. However, the expression levels of GsRLCK seemed to be similar in different tissues, except soybean pod. Phenotypic assays demonstrated that GsRLCK overexpression decreased ABA sensitivity and altered expression levels of ABA-responsive genes. Furthermore, we also found that GsRLCK conferred increased tolerance to salt and drought stresses and increased expression levels of a handful of stress-responsive genes, when overexpressing in Arabidopsis. In a word, we gave exact evidence that GsRLCK was a novel receptor-like cytoplasmic protein kinase and played a crucial role in plant responses to ABA, salt, and drought stresses.

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