Overexpression of GmERF5, a new member of the soybean EAR motif-containing ERF transcription factor, enhances resistance to Phytophthora sojae in soybean

Lidong Dong, Yingxin Cheng, Junjiang Wu, Qun Cheng, Wenbin Li, Sujie Fan, Liangyu Jiang, Zhaolong Xu, Fanjiang Kong, Dayong Zhang, Pengfei Xu, Shuzhen Zhang
Journal of Experimental Botany 2015, 66 (9): 2635-47
Phytophthora root and stem rot of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], caused by Phytophthora sojae Kaufmann and Gerdemann, is a destructive disease throughout the soybean planting regions in the world. Here, we report insights into the function and underlying mechanisms of a novel ethylene response factor (ERF) in soybean, namely GmERF5, in host responses to P. sojae. GmERF5-overexpressing transgenic soybean exhibited significantly enhanced resistance to P. sojae and positively regulated the expression of the PR10, PR1-1, and PR10-1 genes. Sequence analysis suggested that GmERF5 contains an AP2/ERF domain of 58 aa and a conserved ERF-associated amphiphilic repression (EAR) motif in its C-terminal region. Following stress treatments, GmERF5 was significantly induced by P. sojae, ethylene (ET), abscisic acid (ABA), and salicylic acid (SA). The activity of the GmERF5 promoter (GmERF5P) was upregulated in tobacco leaves with ET, ABA, Phytophthora nicotianae, salt, and drought treatments, suggesting that GmERF5 could be involved not only in the induced defence response but also in the ABA-mediated pathway of salt and drought tolerance. GmERF5 could bind to the GCC-box element and act as a repressor of gene transcription. It was targeted to the nucleus when transiently expressed in Arabidopsis protoplasts. GmERF5 interacted with a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor (GmbHLH) and eukaryotic translation initiation factor (GmEIF) both in yeast cells and in planta. To the best of our knowledge, GmERF5 is the first soybean EAR motif-containing ERF transcription factor demonstrated to be involved in the response to pathogen infection.

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