A novel maize homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) I gene, Zmhdz10, positively regulates drought and salt tolerance in both rice and Arabidopsis

Yang Zhao, Qing Ma, Xiaolei Jin, Xiaojian Peng, Jinyang Liu, Lin Deng, Hanwei Yan, Lei Sheng, Haiyang Jiang, Beijiu Cheng
Plant & Cell Physiology 2014, 55 (6): 1142-56
Increasing evidence suggests that homeodomain-leucine zipper I (HD-Zip) I transcription factors play important roles in abiotic stress responses, but no HD-Zip I proteins have been reported in maize. Here, a drought-induced HD-Zip I gene, Zmhdz10, was isolated from maize and characterized for its role in stress responses. Real-time quantitative PCR showed that expression of Zmhdz10 was also induced by salt stress and ABA. Transient expression of Zmhdz10-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion proteins in onion cells showed a nuclear localization of Zmhdz10. Yeast hybrid assays demonstrated that Zmhdz10 has transactivation and DNA-binding activity in yeast cells. Overexpression of Zmhdz10 in rice led to enhanced tolerance to drought and salt stresses and increased sensitivity to ABA. Moreover, Zmhdz10 transgenic plants had lower relative electrolyte leakage (REL), lower malondialdehyde (MDA) and increased proline content relative to wild-type plants under stress conditions, which may contribute to enhanced stress tolerance. Zmhdz10 transgenic Arabidopsis plants also exhibited enhanced tolerance to drought and salt stresses that was concomitant with altered expression of stress/ABA-responsive genes, including Δ1-Pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase 1 (P5CS1), Responsive to dehydration 22 (RD22), Responsive to dehydration 29B (RD29B) and ABA-insensitive 1 (ABI1). Taken together, these results suggest that Zmhdz10 functions as a transcriptional regulator that can positively regulate drought and salt tolerance in plants through an ABA-dependent signaling pathway.

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