Arabidopsis MADS-Box Transcription Factor AGL21 Acts as Environmental Surveillance of Seed Germination by Regulating ABI5 Expression

Lin-Hui Yu, Jie Wu, Zi-Sheng Zhang, Zi-Qing Miao, Ping-Xia Zhao, Zhen Wang, Cheng-Bin Xiang
Molecular Plant 2017 June 5, 10 (6): 834-845
Seed germination is a crucial checkpoint for plant survival under unfavorable environmental conditions. Abscisic acid (ABA) signaling plays a vital role in integrating environmental information to regulate seed germination. It has been well known that MCM1/AGAMOUS/DEFICIENS/SRF (MADS)-box transcription factors are key regulators of seed and flower development in Arabidopsis. However, little is known about their functions in seed germination. Here we report that MADS-box transcription factor AGL21 is a negative regulator of seed germination and post-germination growth by controlling the expression of ABA-INSENSITIVE 5 (ABI5) in Arabidopsis. The AGL21-overexpressing plants were hypersensitive to ABA, salt, and osmotic stresses during seed germination and early post-germination growth, whereas agl21 mutants were less sensitive. We found that AGL21 positively regulated ABI5 expression in seeds. Consistently, genetic analyses showed that AGL21 is epistatic to ABI5 in controlling seed germination. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further demonstrated that AGL21 could directly bind to the ABI5 promoter in plant cells. Moreover, we found that AGL21 responded to multiple environmental stresses and plant hormones during seed germination. Taken together, our results suggest that AGL21 acts as a surveillance integrator that incorporates environmental cues and endogenous hormonal signals into ABA signaling to regulate seed germination and early post-germination growth.

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