Differential expression profiles of poplar MAP kinase kinases in response to abiotic stresses and plant hormones, and overexpression of PtMKK4 improves the drought tolerance of poplar

Lei Wang, Hongyan Su, Liya Han, Chuanqi Wang, Yanlin Sun, Fenghong Liu
Gene 2014 July 15, 545 (1): 141-8
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are universal signal transduction modules that play essential roles in plant growth, development and stress response. MAPK kinases (MAPKKs), which link MAPKs and MAPKK kinases (MAPKKKs), are integral in mediating various stress responses in plants. However, to date few data about the roles of poplar MAPKKs in stress signal transduction are available. In this study, we performed a systemic analysis of poplar MAPKK gene family expression profiles in response to several abiotic stresses and stress-associated hormones. Furthermore, Populus trichocarpa MAPKK4 (PtMKK4) was chosen for functional characterization. Transgenic analysis showed that overexpression of the PtMKK4 gene remarkably enhanced drought stress tolerance in the transgenic poplar plants. The PtMKK4-overexpressing plants also exhibited much lower levels of H2O2 and higher antioxidant enzyme activity after exposure to drought stress compared to the wide type lines. Besides, some drought marker genes including PtP5CS, PtSUS3, PtLTP3 and PtDREB8 exhibited higher expression levels in the transgenic lines than in the wide type under drought conditions. This study provided valuable information for understanding the putative functions of poplar MAPKKs involved in important signaling pathways under different stress conditions.

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