Plant WRKY DNA-binding transcription factors are involved in plant responses to biotic and abiotic responses. It has been previously shown that Arabidopsis WRKY3 and WRKY4, which encode two structurally similar WRKY transcription factors, are induced by pathogen infection and salicylic acid (SA). However, the role of the two WRKY transcription factors in plant disease resistance has not been directly analyzed.
Both WRKY3 and WRKY4 are nuclear-localized and specifically recognize the TTGACC W-box sequences in vitro. Expression of WRKY3 and WRKY4 was induced rapidly by stress conditions generated by liquid infiltration or spraying. Stress-induced expression of WRKY4 was further elevated by pathogen infection and SA treatment. To determine directly their role in plant disease resistance, we have isolated T-DNA insertion mutants and generated transgenic overexpression lines for WRKY3 and WRKY4. Both the loss-of-function mutants and transgenic overexpression lines were examined for responses to the biotrophic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae and the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea. The wrky3 and wrky4 single and double mutants exhibited more severe disease symptoms and support higher fungal growth than wild-type plants after Botrytis infection. Although disruption of WRKY3 and WRKY4 did not have a major effect on plant response to P. syringae, overexpression of WRKY4 greatly enhanced plant susceptibility to the bacterial pathogen and suppressed pathogen-induced PR1 gene expression.
The nuclear localization and sequence-specific DNA-binding activity support that WRKY3 and WRKY4 function as transcription factors. Functional analysis based on T-DNA insertion mutants and transgenic overexpression lines indicates that WRKY3 and WRKY4 have a positive role in plant resistance to necrotrophic pathogens and WRKY4 has a negative effect on plant resistance to biotrophic pathogens.
Although allelic diversity of genes has been shown to contribute to many phenotypic variations associated with different physiological processes in plants, information on allelic diversity of abiotic stress-responsive genes is limited. Here it is shown that the alleles OsWRKY45-1 and OsWRKY45-2 play different roles in abscisic acid (ABA) signalling and salt stress adaptation in rice. The two alleles had different transcriptional responses to ABA and salt stresses. OsWRKY45-1-overexpressing lines showed reduced ABA sensitivity, whereas OsWRKY45-1-knockout lines showed increased ABA sensitivity. OsWRKY45-1 transgenic plants showed no obvious difference from negative controls in response to salt stress. In contrast, OsWRKY45-2-overexpressing lines showed increased ABA sensitivity and reduced salt stress tolerance, and OsWRKY45-2-suppressing lines showed reduced ABA sensitivity and increased salt stress tolerance. OsWRKY45-1 and OsWRKY45-2 transgenic plants showed differential expression of a set of ABA- and abiotic stress-responsive genes, but they showed similar responses to cold and drought stresses. These results suggest that OsWRKY45-1 negatively and OsWRKY45-2 positively regulates ABA signalling and, in addition, OsWRKY45-2 but not OsWRKY45-1 negatively regulates rice response to salt stress. The different roles of the two alleles in ABA signalling and salt stress may be due to their transcriptional mediation of different signalling pathways.
Abiotic stress; biotic stress; Oryza sativa; transcription factor
Mature pollen is very sensitive to cold stress in chilling-sensitive plants. Plant WRKY DNA-binding transcription factors are key regulators in plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. Previous studies have suggested that WRKY34 (At4g26440) gene might be involved in pollen viability, although the mechanism involved is unclear. In this study, it is shown that cold treatment increased WRKY34 expression in the wild type, and promoter-GUS analysis revealed that WRKY34 expression is pollen-specific. Enhanced green fluorescent protein-tagged WRKY34 was localized in the nuclei. Pollen harbouring the wrky34 allele showed higher viability than pollen with the WRKY34 allele after cold treatment. Further functional analysis indicated that the WRKY34 transcription factor was involved in pollen development regulated by the pollen-specific MIKC* class of MADS-domain transcription factors under cold stress, and cold-insensitivity of mature wrky34 pollen might be partly attributable to the enhanced expression of transcriptional activator CBFs in the mutants. Thus, the WRKY34 transcription factor negatively mediated cold sensitivity of mature Arabidopsis pollen and might be involved in the CBF signal cascade in mature pollen.
Arabidopsis; cold stress; pollen; transcription factor; WRKY34
WRKY transcription factors are reported to be involved in defense regulation, stress response and plant growth and development. However, the precise role of WRKY transcription factors in abiotic stress tolerance is not completely understood, especially in crops. In this study, we identified and cloned 10 WRKY genes from genome of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). TaWRKY10, a gene induced by multiple stresses, was selected for further investigation. TaWRKY10 was upregulated by treatment with polyethylene glycol, NaCl, cold and H2O2. Result of Southern blot indicates that the wheat genome contains three copies of TaWRKY10. The TaWRKY10 protein is localized in the nucleus and functions as a transcriptional activator. Overexpression of TaWRKY10 in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) resulted in enhanced drought and salt stress tolerance, mainly demonstrated by the transgenic plants exhibiting of increased germination rate, root length, survival rate, and relative water content under these stress conditions. Further investigation showed that transgenic plants also retained higher proline and soluble sugar contents, and lower reactive oxygen species and malonaldehyde contents. Moreover, overexpression of the TaWRKY10 regulated the expression of a series of stress related genes. Taken together, our results indicate that TaWRKY10 functions as a positive factor under drought and salt stresses by regulating the osmotic balance, ROS scavenging and transcription of stress related genes.
WRKY transcription factors are specifically involved in the transcriptional reprogramming following incidence of abiotic or biotic stress on plants. We have previously documented a novel WRKY gene from banana, MusaWRKY71, which was inducible in response to a wide array of abiotic or biotic stress stimuli. The present work details the effects of MusaWRKY71 overexpression in transgenic banana plants. Stable integration and overexpression of MusaWRKY71 in transgenic banana plants was proved by Southern blot analysis and quantitative real time PCR. Transgenic banana plants overexpressing MusaWRKY71 displayed enhanced tolerance towards oxidative and salt stress as indicated by better photosynthesis efficiency (Fv/Fm) and lower membrane damage of the assayed leaves. Further, differential regulation of putative downstream genes of MusaWRKY71 was investigated using real-time RT-PCR expression analysis. Out of a total of 122 genes belonging to WRKY, pathogenesis-related (PR) protein genes, non-expressor of pathogenesis-related genes 1 (NPR1) and chitinase families analyzed, 10 genes (six belonging to WRKY family, three belonging to PR proteins family and one belonging to chitinase family) showed significant differential regulation in MusaWRKY71 overexpressing lines. These results indicate that MusaWRKY71 is an important constituent in the transcriptional reprogramming involved in diverse stress responses in banana.
Three evolutionarily closely related WRKY-domain transcription factors WRKY18, WRKY40, and WRKY60 in Arabidopsis were previously identified as negative abscisic acid (ABA) signalling regulators, of which WRKY40 regulates ABI4 and ABI5 expression, but it remains unclear whether and how the three transcription factors cooperate to regulate expression of ABI4 and ABI5. In the present experiments, it was shown that WRKY18 and WRKY60, like WRKY40, interact with the W-box in the promoters of ABI4 and ABI5 genes, though the three WRKYs have their own preferential binding domains in the two promoters. WRKY18 and WRKY60, together with WRKY40, inhibit expression of the ABI5 and/or ABI4 genes, which is consistent with their negative roles in ABA signalling. Further, genetic evidence is provided that mutations of ABI4 and ABI5 genes suppress ABA-hypersensitive phenotypes of the null mutant alleles of WRKY18 and WRKY60 genes, demonstrating that ABI4 and ABI5 function downstream of these two WRKY transcription factors in ABA signalling. A working model of cooperation of the three WRKYs in repressing ABI4 and ABI5 expression is proposed, in which the three WRKYs antagonize or aid each other in a highly complex manner. These findings help to understand the complex mechanisms of WRKY-mediated ABA signal transduction.
ABA-responsive gene; ABA signalling; ABI4; ABI5; Arabidopsis thaliana; WRKY transcription factor; WRKY18; WRKY40; WRKY60
WRKY proteins are newly identified transcription factors involved in many plant processes including plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. To date, genes encoding WRKY proteins have been identified only from plants. Comprehensive search for WRKY genes in non-plant organisms and phylogenetic analysis would provide invaluable information about the origin and expansion of the WRKY family.
We searched all publicly available sequence data for WRKY genes. A single copy of the WRKY gene encoding two WRKY domains was identified from Giardia lamblia, a primitive eukaryote, Dictyostelium discoideum, a slime mold closely related to the lineage of animals and fungi, and the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an early branching of plants. This ancestral WRKY gene seems to have duplicated many times during the evolution of plants, resulting in a large family in evolutionarily advanced flowering plants. In rice, the WRKY gene family consists of over 100 members. Analyses suggest that the C-terminal domain of the two-WRKY-domain encoding gene appears to be the ancestor of the single-WRKY-domain encoding genes, and that the WRKY domains may be phylogenetically classified into five groups. We propose a model to explain the WRKY family's origin in eukaryotes and expansion in plants.
WRKY genes seem to have originated in early eukaryotes and greatly expanded in plants. The elucidation of the evolution and duplicative expansion of the WRKY genes should provide valuable information on their functions.
Plant WRKY DNA-binding transcription factors are key regulators in certain developmental programs. A number of studies have suggested that WRKY genes may mediate seed germination and postgermination growth. However, it is unclear whether WRKY genes mediate ABA-dependent seed germination and postgermination growth arrest.
To determine directly the role of Arabidopsis WRKY2 transcription factor during ABA-dependent seed germination and postgermination growth arrest, we isolated T-DNA insertion mutants. Two independent T-DNA insertion mutants for WRKY2 were hypersensitive to ABA responses only during seed germination and postgermination early growth. wrky2 mutants displayed delayed or decreased expression of ABI5 and ABI3, but increased or prolonged expression of Em1 and Em6. wrky2 mutants and wild type showed similar levels of expression for miR159 and its target genes MYB33 and MYB101. Analysis of WRKY2 expression level in ABA-insensitive and ABA-deficient mutants abi5-1, abi3-1, aba2-3 and aba3-1 further indicated that ABA-induced WRKY2 accumulation during germination and postgermination early growth requires ABI5, ABI3, ABA2 and ABA3.
ABA hypersensitivity of the wrky2 mutants during seed germination and postgermination early seedling establishment is attributable to elevated mRNA levels of ABI5, ABI3 and ABI5-induced Em1 and Em6 in the mutants. WRKY2-mediated ABA responses are independent of miR159 and its target genes MYB33 and MYB101. ABI5, ABI3, ABA2 and ABA3 are important regulators of the transcripts of WRKY2 by ABA treatment. Our results suggest that WRKY2 transcription factor mediates seed germination and postgermination developmental arrest by ABA.
WRKY proteins are a large family of transcriptional regulators in higher plant. They are involved in many biological processes, such as plant development, metabolism, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Prior to the present study, only one full-length cucumber WRKY protein had been reported. The recent publication of the draft genome sequence of cucumber allowed us to conduct a genome-wide search for cucumber WRKY proteins, and to compare these positively identified proteins with their homologs in model plants, such as Arabidopsis.
We identified a total of 55 WRKY genes in the cucumber genome. According to structural features of their encoded proteins, the cucumber WRKY (CsWRKY) genes were classified into three groups (group 1-3). Analysis of expression profiles of CsWRKY genes indicated that 48 WRKY genes display differential expression either in their transcript abundance or in their expression patterns under normal growth conditions, and 23 WRKY genes were differentially expressed in response to at least one abiotic stresses (cold, drought or salinity). The expression profile of stress-inducible CsWRKY genes were correlated with those of their putative Arabidopsis WRKY (AtWRKY) orthologs, except for the group 3 WRKY genes. Interestingly, duplicated group 3 AtWRKY genes appear to have been under positive selection pressure during evolution. In contrast, there was no evidence of recent gene duplication or positive selection pressure among CsWRKY group 3 genes, which may have led to the expressional divergence of group 3 orthologs.
Fifty-five WRKY genes were identified in cucumber and the structure of their encoded proteins, their expression, and their evolution were examined. Considering that there has been extensive expansion of group 3 WRKY genes in angiosperms, the occurrence of different evolutionary events could explain the functional divergence of these genes.
The WRKY transcription factor gene family has a very ancient origin and has undergone extensive duplications in the plant kingdom. Several studies have pointed out their involvement in a range of biological processes, revealing that a large number of WRKY genes are transcriptionally regulated under conditions of biotic and/or abiotic stress. To investigate the existence of WRKY co-regulatory networks in plants, a whole gene family WRKYs expression study was carried out in rice (Oryza sativa). This analysis was extended to Arabidopsis thaliana taking advantage of an extensive repository of gene expression data.
The presented results suggested that 24 members of the rice WRKY gene family (22% of the total) were differentially-regulated in response to at least one of the stress conditions tested. We defined the existence of nine OsWRKY gene clusters comprising both phylogenetically related and unrelated genes that were significantly co-expressed, suggesting that specific sets of WRKY genes might act in co-regulatory networks. This hypothesis was tested by Pearson Correlation Coefficient analysis of the Arabidopsis WRKY gene family in a large set of Affymetrix microarray experiments. AtWRKYs were found to belong to two main co-regulatory networks (COR-A, COR-B) and two smaller ones (COR-C and COR-D), all including genes belonging to distinct phylogenetic groups. The COR-A network contained several AtWRKY genes known to be involved mostly in response to pathogens, whose physical and/or genetic interaction was experimentally proven. We also showed that specific co-regulatory networks were conserved between the two model species by identifying Arabidopsis orthologs of the co-expressed OsWRKY genes.
In this work we identified sets of co-expressed WRKY genes in both rice and Arabidopsis that are functionally likely to cooperate in the same signal transduction pathways. We propose that, making use of data from co-regulatory networks, it is possible to highlight novel clusters of plant genes contributing to the same biological processes or signal transduction pathways. Our approach will contribute to unveil gene cooperation pathways not yet identified by classical genetic analyses. This information will open new routes contributing to the dissection of WRKY signal transduction pathways in plants.
A common feature of plant defense responses is the transcriptional regulation of a large number of genes upon pathogen infection or treatment with pathogen elicitors. A large body of evidence suggests that plant WRKY transcription factors are involved in plant defense including transcriptional regulation of plant host genes in response to pathogen infection. However, there is only limited information about the roles of specific WRKY DNA-binding transcription factors in plant defense.
We analyzed the role of the WRKY25 transcription factor from Arabidopsis in plant defense against the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. WRKY25 protein recognizes the TTGACC W-box sequences and its translational fusion with green fluorescent protein is localized to the nucleus. WRKY25 expression is responsive to general environmental stress. Analysis of stress-induced WRKY25 in the defense signaling mutants npr1, sid2, ein2 and coi1 further indicated that this gene is positively regulated by the salicylic acid (SA) signaling pathway and negatively regulated by the jasmonic acid signaling pathway. Two independent T-DNA insertion mutants for WRKY25 supported normal growth of a virulent strain of P. syringae but developed reduced disease symptoms after infection. By contrast, Arabidopsis constitutively overexpressing WRKY25 supported enhanced growth of P. syringae and displayed increased disease symptom severity as compared to wild-type plants. These WRKY25-overexpressing plants also displayed reduced expression of the SA-regulated PR1 gene after the pathogen infection, despite normal levels of free SA.
The nuclear localization and sequence-specific DNA-binding activity support that WRKY25 functions as a transcription factor. Based on analysis of both T-DNA insertion mutants and transgenic overexpression lines, stress-induced WRKY25 functions as a negative regulator of SA-mediated defense responses to P. syringae. This proposed role is consistent with the recent finding that WRKY25 is a substrate of Arabidopsis MAP kinase 4, a repressor of SA-dependent defense responses.
WRKY proteins, defined by the conserved WRKYGQK sequence, are comprised of a large superfamily of transcription factors identified specifically from the plant kingdom. This superfamily plays important roles in plant disease resistance, abiotic stress, senescence as well as in some developmental processes. In this study, the Arabidopsis WRKY1 was shown to be involved in the salicylic acid signaling pathway and partially dependent on NPR1; a C-terminal domain of WRKY1, AtWRKY1-C, was constructed for structural studies. Previous investigations showed that DNA binding of the WRKY proteins was localized at the WRKY domains and these domains may define novel zinc-binding motifs. The crystal structure of the AtWRKY1-C determined at 1.6 Å resolution has revealed that this domain is composed of a globular structure with five β strands, forming an antiparallel β-sheet. A novel zinc-binding site is situated at one end of the β-sheet, between strands β4 and β5. Based on this high-resolution crystal structure and site-directed mutagenesis, we have defined and confirmed that the DNA-binding residues of AtWRKY1-C are located at β2 and β3 strands. These results provided us with structural information to understand the mechanism of transcriptional control and signal transduction events of the WRKY proteins.
WRKY transcription factors regulate diverse plant processes including responses to biotic stresses. Our previous studies indicate that OsWRKY62, an OsWRKY IIa subfamily member, functions as a negative regulator of the rice defense against Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. Here, we report that a large inverted repeat construct designed to knock down the expression of the four OsWRKY IIa subfamily members (OsWRKY62, OsWRKY28, OsWRKY71, and OsWRKY76) leads to overexpression of all four genes and disease resistance in some transgenic plants. These phenotypes are stably inherited as reflected by progeny analysis. A pathogenesis-related gene, PR10, is up-regulated in plants overexpressing the OsWRKY IIa genes. These results suggest that OsWRKY IIa proteins interact functionally to modulate plant innate immunity.
Rice; OsWRKY IIa; Xoo; Innate immunity
Members of plant WRKY transcription factor families are widely implicated in defense responses and various other physiological processes. For canola (Brassica napus L.), no WRKY genes have been described in detail. Because of the economic importance of this crop, and its evolutionary relationship to Arabidopsis thaliana, we sought to characterize a subset of canola WRKY genes in the context of pathogen and hormone responses.
In this study, we identified 46 WRKY genes from canola by mining the expressed sequence tag (EST) database and cloned cDNA sequences of 38 BnWRKYs. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using the conserved WRKY domain amino acid sequences, which demonstrated that BnWRKYs can be divided into three major groups. We further compared BnWRKYs to the 72 WRKY genes from Arabidopsis and 91 WRKY from rice, and we identified 46 presumptive orthologs of AtWRKY genes. We examined the subcellular localization of four BnWRKY proteins using green fluorescent protein (GFP) and we observed the fluorescent green signals in the nucleus only.
The responses of 16 selected BnWRKY genes to two fungal pathogens, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria brassicae, were analyzed by quantitative real time-PCR (qRT-PCR). Transcript abundance of 13 BnWRKY genes changed significantly following pathogen challenge: transcripts of 10 WRKYs increased in abundance, two WRKY transcripts decreased after infection, and one decreased at 12 h post-infection but increased later on (72 h). We also observed that transcript abundance of 13/16 BnWRKY genes was responsive to one or more hormones, including abscisic acid (ABA), and cytokinin (6-benzylaminopurine, BAP) and the defense signaling molecules jasmonic acid (JA), salicylic acid (SA), and ethylene (ET). We compared these transcript expression patterns to those previously described for presumptive orthologs of these genes in Arabidopsis and rice, and observed both similarities and differences in expression patterns.
We identified a set of 13 BnWRKY genes from among 16 BnWRKY genes assayed, that are responsive to both fungal pathogens and hormone treatments, suggesting shared signaling mechanisms for these responses. This study suggests that a large number of BnWRKY proteins are involved in the transcriptional regulation of defense-related genes in response to fungal pathogens and hormone stimuli.
Rice transcription regulator OsWRKY13 influences the functioning of more than 500 genes in multiple signalling pathways, with roles in disease resistance, redox homeostasis, abiotic stress responses, and development.
To determine the putative transcriptional regulation mechanism of OsWRKY13, the putative cis-acting elements of OsWRKY13-influenced genes were analyzed using the whole genome expression profiling of OsWRKY13-activated plants generated with the Affymetrix GeneChip Rice Genome Array. At least 39 transcription factor genes were influenced by OsWRKY13, and 30 of them were downregulated. The promoters of OsWRKY13-upregulated genes were overrepresented with W-boxes for WRKY protein binding, whereas the promoters of OsWRKY13-downregulated genes were enriched with cis-elements putatively for binding of MYB and AP2/EREBP types of transcription factors. Consistent with the distinctive distribution of these cis-elements in up- and downregulated genes, nine WRKY genes were influenced by OsWRKY13 and the promoters of five of them were bound by OsWRKY13 in vitro; all seven differentially expressed AP2/EREBP genes and six of the seven differentially expressed MYB genes were suppressed by in OsWRKY13-activated plants. A subset of OsWRKY13-influenced WRKY genes were involved in host-pathogen interactions.
These results suggest that OsWRKY13-mediated signalling pathways are partitioned by different transcription factors. WRKY proteins may play important roles in the monitoring of OsWRKY13-upregulated genes and genes involved in pathogen-induced defence responses, whereas MYB and AP2/EREBP proteins may contribute most to the control of OsWRKY13-downregulated genes.
Trichoderma spp. are versatile opportunistic plant symbionts which can colonize the apoplast of plant roots. Microarrays analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana roots inoculated with Trichoderma asperelloides T203, coupled with qPCR analysis of 137 stress responsive genes and transcription factors, revealed wide gene transcript reprogramming, proceeded by a transient repression of the plant immune responses supposedly to allow root colonization. Enhancement in the expression of WRKY18 and WRKY40, which stimulate JA-signaling via suppression of JAZ repressors and negatively regulate the expression of the defense genes FMO1, PAD3 and CYP71A13, was detected in Arabidopsis roots upon Trichoderma colonization. Reduced root colonization was observed in the wrky18/wrky40 double mutant line, while partial phenotypic complementation was achieved by over-expressing WRKY40 in the wrky18 wrky40 background. On the other hand increased colonization rate was found in roots of the FMO1 knockout mutant. Trichoderma spp. stimulate plant growth and resistance to a wide range of adverse environmental conditions. Arabidopsis and cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) plants treated with Trichoderma prior to salt stress imposition show significantly improved seed germination. In addition, Trichoderma treatment affects the expression of several genes related to osmo-protection and general oxidative stress in roots of both plants. The MDAR gene coding for monodehydroascorbate reductase is significantly up-regulated and, accordingly, the pool of reduced ascorbic acid was found to be increased in Trichoderma treated plants. 1-Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC)-deaminase silenced Trichoderma mutants were less effective in providing tolerance to salt stress, suggesting that Trichoderma, similarly to ACC deaminase producing bacteria, can ameliorate plant growth under conditions of abiotic stress, by lowering ameliorating increases in ethylene levels as well as promoting an elevated antioxidative capacity.
Trichoderma fungi have been developed as biocontrol agents and are applied to protect and improve crop yields. Colonization of plant roots by Trichoderma can protect plants against diseases and environmental stresses such as salinity and drought, and an improve plant growth and development. To better understand the mechanism underlining the plant-Trichoderma interaction we followed changes in global gene expression in colonized Arabidopsis roots. We associate the known gene biological function to the processes of root colonization and abiotic stress tolerance mediated by Trichoderma. Using Arabidopsis mutant lines we show the function of a subset of those genes in root colonization. We show that wrky18 and wrky40 transcription factors activate and suppress the expression of different genes in order to allow successful root colonization. We also combine the gene expression data together with the measurement of ascorbic acid level to demonstrate that salt stress tolerance offered by Trichoderma is dependent on activation of the plant antioxidant defense machinery. Using Trichoderma lines mutated in the ACC deaminase gene, we demonstrate that reduction of ethylene levels is also essential in achieving salt tolerance. This study represents an important step forward in understanding the nature of the non-pathogenic plant Trichoderma interaction, and may contribute to the efforts to improve Trichoderma biocontrol abilities.
The WRKY transcription factors function in plant growth and development, and response to the biotic and abiotic stresses. Although many studies have focused on the functional identification of the WRKY transcription factors, much less is known about molecular phylogenetic and global expression analysis of the complete WRKY family in maize. In this study, we identified 136 WRKY proteins coded by 119 genes in the B73 inbred line from the complete genome and named them in an orderly manner. Then, a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of five species was performed to explore the origin and evolutionary patterns of these WRKY genes, and the result showed that gene duplication is the major driving force for the origin of new groups and subgroups and functional divergence during evolution. Chromosomal location analysis of maize WRKY genes indicated that 20 gene clusters are distributed unevenly in the genome. Microarray-based expression analysis has revealed that 131 WRKY transcripts encoded by 116 genes may participate in the regulation of maize growth and development. Among them, 102 transcripts are stably expressed with a coefficient of variation (CV) value of <15%. The remaining 29 transcripts produced by 25 WRKY genes with the CV value of >15% are further analysed to discover new organ- or tissue-specific genes. In addition, microarray analyses of transcriptional responses to drought stress and fungal infection showed that maize WRKY proteins are involved in stress responses. All these results contribute to a deep probing into the roles of WRKY transcription factors in maize growth and development and stress tolerance.
WRKY transcription factor; maize; phylogenetic analysis; expression profile; development
As a large family of regulatory proteins, WRKY transcription factors play essential roles in the processes of adaptation to diverse environmental stresses and plant growth and development. Although several studies have investigated the role of WRKY transcription factors during these processes, the mechanisms underlying the function of WRKY members need to be further explored, and research focusing on the WRKY family in cotton crops is extremely limited.
In the present study, a gene encoding a putative WRKY family member, GhWRKY15, was isolated from cotton. GhWRKY15 is present as a single copy gene, and a transient expression analysis indicated that GhWRKY15 was localised to the nucleus. Additionally, a group of cis-acting elements associated with the response to environmental stress and plant growth and development were detected in the promoter. Consistently, northern blot analysis showed that GhWRKY15 expression was significantly induced in cotton seedlings following fungal infection or treatment with salicylic acid, methyl jasmonate or methyl viologen. Furthermore, GhWRKY15-overexpressing tobacco exhibited more resistance to viral and fungal infections compared with wild-type tobacco. The GhWRKY15-overexpressing tobacco also exhibited increased RNA expression of several pathogen-related genes, NONEXPRESSOR OF PR1, and two genes that encode enzymes involved in ET biosynthesis. Importantly, increased activity of the antioxidant enzymes POD and APX during infection and enhanced expression of NtAPX1 and NtGPX in transgenic tobacco following methyl viologen treatment were observed. Moreover, GhWRKY15 transcription was greater in the roots and stems compared with the expression in the cotyledon of cotton, and the stems of transgenic plants displayed faster elongation at the earlier shooting stages compared with wide type tobacco. Additionally, exposure to abiotic stresses, including cold, wounding and drought, resulted in the accumulation of GhWRKY15 transcripts.
Overall, our data suggest that overexpression of GhWRKY15 may contribute to the alteration of defence resistance to both viral and fungal infections, probably through regulating the ROS system via multiple signalling pathways in tobacco. It is intriguing that GhWRKY15 overexpression in tobacco affects plant growth and development, especially stem elongation. This finding suggests that the role of the WRKY proteins in disease resistance may be closely related to their function in regulating plant growth and development.
GhWRKY15; Cotton; Disease resistance; SA; ROS; Plant development
WRKY proteins belong to the WRKY-GCM1 superfamily of zinc finger transcription factors that have been subject to a large plant-specific diversification. For the cereal crop barley (Hordeum vulgare), three different WRKY proteins have been characterized so far as regulators in sucrose signaling, pathogen defense, and in response to cold and drought. However, their phylogenetic relationship remained unresolved.
In this study, we used available sequence information to identify a minimum number of 45 barley WRKY transcription factor (HvWRKY) genes. According to their structural features, the HvWRKY factors were classified into the previously defined polyphyletic WRKY subgroups 1 to 3. Furthermore, we could assign putative orthologs of the HvWRKY proteins in Arabidopsis and rice. While in most cases clades of orthologous proteins were formed within each group or subgroup, other clades were composed of paralogous proteins for the grasses and Arabidopsis only, which is indicative of specific gene radiation events. To gain insight into their putative functions, we examined expression profiles of WRKY genes from publicly available microarray data resources and found group specific expression patterns. While putative orthologs of the HvWRKY transcription factors have been inferred from phylogenetic sequence analysis, we performed a comparative expression analysis of WRKY genes in Arabidopsis and barley. Indeed, highly correlative expression profiles were found between some of the putative orthologs.
HvWRKY genes have not only undergone radiation in monocot or dicot species, but exhibit evolutionary traits specific to grasses. HvWRKY proteins exhibited not only sequence similarities between orthologs with Arabidopsis, but also relatedness in their expression patterns. This correlative expression is indicative for a putative conserved function of related WRKY proteins in monocot and dicot species.
The biological functions of WRKY transcription factors in plants have been widely studied, but their roles in abiotic stress are still not well understood. We isolated an ABA overly sensitive mutant, abo3, which is disrupted by a T-DNA insertion in At1g66600 encoding a WRKY transcription factor AtWRKY63. The mutant was hypersensitive to ABA in both seedling establishment and seedling growth. However, stomatal closure was less sensitive to ABA, and the abo3 mutant was less drought tolerant than the wild type. Northern blot analysis indicated that the expression of the ABA-responsive transcription factor ABF2/AREB1 was markedly lower in the abo3 mutant than in the wild type. The abo3 mutation also reduced the expression of stress-inducible genes RD29A and COR47, especially early during ABA treatment. ABO3 is able to bind the W-box in the promoter of ABF2 in vitro. These results uncover an important role for a WRKY transcription factor in plant responses to ABA and drought stress.
WRKY transcription factor; abscisic acid; Arabidopsis; drought stress
Understanding the global abiotic stress response is an important stepping stone for the development of universal stress tolerance in plants in the era of climate change. Although co-occurrence of several stress factors (abiotic and biotic) in nature is found to be frequent, current attempts are poor to understand the complex physiological processes impacting plant growth under combinatory factors. In this review article, we discuss the recent advances of reverse engineering approaches that led to seminal discoveries of key candidate regulatory genes involved in cross-talk of abiotic stress responses and summarized the available tools of reverse engineering and its relevant application. Among the universally induced regulators involved in various abiotic stress responses, we highlight the importance of (i) abscisic acid (ABA) and jasmonic acid (JA) hormonal cross-talks and (ii) the central role of WRKY transcription factors (TF), potentially mediating both abiotic and biotic stress responses. Such interactome networks help not only to derive hypotheses but also play a vital role in identifying key regulatory targets and interconnected hormonal responses. To explore the full potential of gene network inference in the area of abiotic stress tolerance, we need to validate hypotheses by implementing time-dependent gene expression data from genetically engineered plants with modulated expression of target genes. We further propose to combine information on gene-by-gene interactions with data from physical interaction platforms such as protein–protein or TF-gene networks.
abiotic stress; Arabidopsis; reverse engineering; systems biology; stress tolerance; yield
WRKY proteins are transcription factors involved in many plant processes including plant responses to pathogens. Here, the cross activity of TaWRKY78 from the monocot wheat and AtWRKY20 from the dicot Arabidopsis on the cognate promoters of the orthologous PR4-type genes wPR4e and AtHEL of wheat and Arabidopsis, respectively, was investigated. In vitro analysis showed the ability of TaWRKY78 to bind a –17/+80 region of the wPR4e promoter, containing one cis-acting W-box. Moreover, transient expression analysis performed on both TaWRKY78 and AtWRKY20 showed their ability to recognize the cognate cis-acting elements present in the wPR4e and AtHEL promoters, respectively. Finally, this paper provides evidence that both transcription factors are able to cross-regulate the orthologous PR4 genes with an efficiency slightly lower than that exerted on the cognate promoters. The observation that orthologous genes are subjected to similar transcriptional control by orthologous transcription factors demonstrates that the terminal stages of signal transduction pathways leading to defence are conserved and suggests a fundamental role of PR4 genes in plant defence. Moreover, these results corroborate the hypothesis that gene orthology imply similar gene function and that diversification between monocot and dicot has most likely occurred after the specialization of WRKY function.
Arabidopsis thaliana; gene expression; gene orthology; PR4 genes; transient expression analysis; transcription; regulation; Triticum aestivum
The transcriptional activator WRKY45 plays a major role in the salicylic acid/benzothiadiazole-induced defense program in rice. Here, we show that the nuclear ubiquitin–proteasome system (UPS) plays a role in regulating the function of WRKY45. Proteasome inhibitors induced accumulation of polyubiquitinated WRKY45 and transient up-regulation of WRKY45 target genes in rice cells, suggesting that WRKY45 is constantly degraded by the UPS to suppress defense responses in the absence of defense signals. Mutational analysis of the nuclear localization signal indicated that UPS-dependent WRKY45 degradation occurs in the nuclei. Interestingly, the transcriptional activity of WRKY45 after salicylic acid treatment was impaired by proteasome inhibition. The same C-terminal region in WRKY45 was essential for both transcriptional activity and UPS-dependent degradation. These results suggest that UPS regulation also plays a role in the transcriptional activity of WRKY45. It has been reported that AtNPR1, the central regulator of the salicylic acid pathway in Arabidopsis, is regulated by the UPS. We found that OsNPR1/NH1, the rice counterpart of NPR1, was not stabilized by proteasome inhibition under uninfected conditions. We discuss the differences in post-translational regulation of salicylic acid pathway components between rice and Arabidopsis.
salicylic acid; proteasome; rice; transcription factor; WRKY; NPR1; Arabidopsis thaliana; Oryza sativa
The plant-specific WRKY transcription factor (TF) family with 74 members in Arabidopsis thaliana appears to be involved in the regulation of various physiological processes including plant defence and senescence. WRKY53 and WRKY70 were previously implicated as positive and negative regulators of senescence, respectively. Here the putative function of other WRKY group III proteins in Arabidopsis leaf senescence has been explored and the results suggest the involvement of two additional WRKY TFs, WRKY 54 and WRKY30, in this process. The structurally related WRKY54 and WRKY70 exhibit a similar expression pattern during leaf development and appear to have co-operative and partly redundant functions in senescence, as revealed by single and double mutant studies. These two negative senescence regulators and the positive regulator WRKY53 were shown by yeast two-hydrid analysis to interact independently with WRKY30. WRKY30 was expressed during developmental leaf senescence and consequently it is hypothesized that the corresponding protein could participate in a senescence regulatory network with the other WRKYs. Expression in wild-type and salicylic acid-deficient mutants suggests a common but not exclusive role for SA in induction of WRKY30, 53, 54, and 70 during senescence. WRKY30 and WRKY53 but not WRKY54 and WRKY70 are also responsive to additional signals such as reactive oxygen species. The results suggest that WRKY53, WRKY54, and WRKY70 may participate in a regulatory network that integrates internal and environmental cues to modulate the onset and the progression of leaf senescence, possibly through an interaction with WRKY30.
Arabidopsis thaliana; ROS; SA; senescence; WRKY transcription factors
Recently we cloned and characterized the gene for the wheat transcription factor TaWRKY45 and showed that TaWRKY45 was upregulated in response to benzothiadiazole (BTH) and Fusarium head blight (FHB) and that its overexpression conferred enhanced resistance against F. graminearum. To characterize the functional role of TaWRKY45 in the disease resistance of wheat, in the present study we conducted expression analyses of TaWRKY45 with inoculations of powdery mildew and leaf rust and evaluated TaWRKY45-overexpressing wheat plants for resistance to these diseases. TaWRKY45 was upregulated in response to infections with Blumeria graminis, a causal fungus for powdery mildew, and Puccinia triticina, a causal fungus for leaf rust. Constitutive overexpression of the TaWRKY45 transgene conferred enhanced resistance against these two fungi on transgenic wheat plants grown under greenhouse conditions. However, the expression of two resistance-related genes, Pm3 and Lr34, was not induced by the inoculation with powdery mildew in TaWRKY45-overexpressing wheat plants. These results suggest that TaWRKY45 is involved in the defense responses for multiple fungal diseases in wheat but that resistance involving TaWRKY45 differs from at least Pm3 and/or Lr34-related resistance. Our present and previous studies indicate that TaWRKY45 may be potentially utilized to improve a wide range of disease resistance in wheat.
leaf rust; multiple resistance; overexpression; powdery mildew; TaWRKY45; wheat