Overexpression of pigeonpea stress-induced cold and drought regulatory gene (CcCDR) confers drought, salt, and cold tolerance in Arabidopsis

Srinath Tamirisa, Dashavantha Reddy Vudem, Venkateswara Rao Khareedu
Journal of Experimental Botany 2014, 65 (17): 4769-81
A potent cold and drought regulatory protein-encoding gene (CcCDR) was isolated from the subtractive cDNA library of pigeonpea plants subjected to drought stress. CcCDR was induced by different abiotic stress conditions in pigeonpea. Overexpression of CcCDR in Arabidopsis thaliana imparted enhanced tolerance against major abiotic stresses, namely drought, salinity, and low temperature, as evidenced by increased biomass, root length, and chlorophyll content. Transgenic plants also showed increased levels of antioxidant enzymes, proline, and reducing sugars under stress conditions. Furthermore, CcCDR-transgenic plants showed enhanced relative water content, osmotic potential, and cell membrane stability, as well as hypersensitivity to abscisic acid (ABA) as compared with control plants. Localization studies confirmed that CcCDR could enter the nucleus, as revealed by intense fluorescence, indicating its possible interaction with various nuclear proteins. Microarray analysis revealed that 1780 genes were up-regulated in CcCDR-transgenics compared with wild-type plants. Real-time PCR analysis on selected stress-responsive genes, involved in ABA-dependent and -independent signalling networks, revealed higher expression levels in transgenic plants, suggesting that CcCDR acts upstream of these genes. The overall results demonstrate the explicit role of CcCDR in conferring multiple abiotic stress tolerance at the whole-plant level. The multifunctional CcCDR seems promising as a prime candidate gene for enhancing abiotic stress tolerance in diverse plants.

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