OsGRAS23, a rice GRAS transcription factor gene, is involved in drought stress response through regulating expression of stress-responsive genes

Kai Xu, Shoujun Chen, Tianfei Li, Xiaosong Ma, Xiaohua Liang, Xuefeng Ding, Hongyan Liu, Lijun Luo
BMC Plant Biology 2015, 15: 141

BACKGROUND: Drought is a major abiotic stress factors that reduces agricultural productivity. GRAS transcription factors are plant-specific proteins that play diverse roles in plant development. However, the functions of a number of GRAS genes identified in rice are unknown, especially the GRAS genes related to rice drought resistance have not been characterized.

RESULTS: In this study, a novel GRAS transcription factor gene named OsGRAS23, which is located in a drought-resistant QTL interval on chromosome 4 of rice, was isolated. The expression of OsGRAS23 was induced by drought, NaCl, and jasmonic acid treatments. The OsGRAS23-GFP fused protein was localized in the nucleus of tobacco epidermal cells. A trans-activation assay in yeast cells demonstrated that the OsGRAS23 protein possessed a strong transcriptional activation activity. OsGRAS23-overexpressing rice plants showed improved drought resistance and oxidative stress tolerance as well as less H2O2 accumulation compared with the wild-type plants. Furthermore, microarray analysis showed that several anti-oxidation related genes were up-regulated in the OsGRAS23-overexpressing rice plants. The yeast one hybrid test indicated that OsGRAS23 could bind to the promoters of its potential target genes.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that OsGRAS23 encodes a stress-responsive GRAS transcription factor and positively modulates rice drought tolerance via the induction of a number of stress-responsive genes.

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