Functional characterization of Arabidopsis HsfA6a as a heat-shock transcription factor under high salinity and dehydration conditions

Sung Min Hwang, Dae Won Kim, Min Seok Woo, Hyeong Seop Jeong, Young Sim Son, Salina Akhter, Gyung Ja Choi, Jeong Dong Bahk
Plant, Cell & Environment 2014, 37 (5): 1202-22
Although heat-shock transcription factors are well characterized in the heat stress-related pathway, they are poorly understood in other stress responses. Here, we functionally characterized AtHsfA6a in the presence of exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) and under high salinity and dehydration conditions. AtHsfA6a expression under normal conditions is very low, but was highly induced by exogenous ABA, NaCl and drought. Unexpectedly, the levels of AtHsfA6a transcript were not significantly altered under heat and cold stresses. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and transient transactivation assays indicated that AtHsfA6a is transcriptionally regulated by ABA-responsive element binding factor/ABA-responsive element binding protein, which are key regulators of the ABA signalling pathway. Additionally, fractionation and protoplast transient assays showed that AtHsfA6a was in cytoplasm and nucleus simultaneously; however, under conditions of high salinity the majority of AtHsfA6A was in the nucleus. Furthermore, at both seed germination and seedlings stage, plants overexpressing AtHsfA6a were hypersensitive to ABA and exhibited enhanced tolerance against salt and drought stresses. Finally, the microarray and qRT-PCR analyses revealed that many stress-responsive genes were up-regulated in the plants overexpressing AtHsfA6a. Taken together, the data strongly suggest that AtHsfA6a acts as a transcriptional activator of stress-responsive genes via the ABA-dependent signalling pathway.

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