A maize mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase, ZmMKK1, positively regulated the salt and drought tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis

Guohua Cai, Guodong Wang, Li Wang, Yang Liu, Jiaowen Pan, Dequan Li
Journal of Plant Physiology 2014 July 15, 171 (12): 1003-16
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are highly conserved signal transduction modules in animals, plants and yeast. MAPK cascades are complicated networks and play vital roles in signal transduction pathways involved in biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, a maize MAPKK gene, ZmMKK1, was characterized. Quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis demonstrated that ZmMKK1 transcripts were induced by diverse stresses and ABA signal molecule in maize root. Further study showed that the ZmMKK1-overexpressing Arabidopsis enhanced the tolerance to salt and drought stresses. However, seed germination, post-germination growth and stomatal aperture analysis demonstrated that ZmMKK1 overexpression was sensitive to ABA in transgenic Arabidopsis. Molecular genetic analysis revealed that the overexpression of ZmMKK1 in Arabidopsis enhanced the expression of ROS scavenging enzyme- and ABA-related genes, such as POD, CAT, RAB18 and RD29A under salt and drought conditions. In addition, heterologous overexpression of ZmMKK1 in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) improved the tolerance to salt and drought stresses. These results suggested that ZmMKK1 might act as an ABA- and ROS-dependent protein kinase in positive modulation of salt and drought tolerance. Most importantly, ZmMKK1 interacted with ZmMEKK1 as evidenced by yeast two-hybrid assay, redeeming a deficiency of MAPK interaction partners in maize.

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