Comparative functional analysis of six drought-responsive promoters in transgenic rice

Kazuo Nakashima, Asad Jan, Daisuke Todaka, Kyonoshin Maruyama, Shingo Goto, Kazuo Shinozaki, Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki
Planta 2014, 239 (1): 47-60
Rice production is greatly affected by environmental stresses such as drought and high salinity. Transgenic rice plants tolerant to such stresses are expected to be produced. Stress-responsive promoters with low expression under normal growth conditions are needed to minimize the adverse effects of stress-tolerance genes on rice growth. We performed expression analyses of drought-responsive genes in rice plants using a microarray, and selected LIP9, OsNAC6, OsLEA14a, OsRAB16D, OsLEA3-1, and Oshox24 for promoter analysis. Transient assays using the promoters indicated that AREB/ABF (abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive element-binding protein/ABA-binding factor) transcription factors enhanced expressions of these genes. We generated transgenic rice plants containing each promoter and the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene. GUS assays revealed that the LIP9 and OsNAC6 promoters were induced by drought, high salinity, and ABA treatment, and both promoters showed strong activity under normal growth conditions in the root. The other promoters were strongly induced by stresses and ABA, but showed low activity under normal growth conditions. In seeds, GUS staining showed that Oshox24 expression was low and expressions of the other genes were high. Transgenic rice plants overexpressing OsNAC6 under the control of the Oshox24 promoter showed increased tolerance to drought and high salinity, and no growth defects. These data suggest that the Oshox24 promoter is useful to overexpress stress-tolerance genes without adversely affecting growth.

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