Rice transcription factor OsMADS25 modulates root growth and confers salinity tolerance via the ABA–mediated regulatory pathway and ROS scavenging

by Ning Xu, Yanli Chu, Hongli Chen, Xingxing Li, Qi Wu, Liang Jin, Guixue Wang, Junli Huang

Plant roots are constantly exposed to a variety of abiotic stresses, and high salinity is one of the major limiting conditions that impose constraints on plant growth. In this study, we describe that OsMADS25 is required for the root growth as well as salinity tolerance, via maintaining ROS homeostasis in rice (Oryza sativa). Overexpression of OsMADS25 remarkably enhanced the primary root (PR) length and lateral root (LR) density, whereas RNAi silence of this gene reduced PR elongation significantly, with altered ROS accumulation in the root tip. Transcriptional activation assays indicated that OsMADS25 activates OsGST4 (glutathione S–transferase) expression directly by binding to its promoter. Meanwhile, osgst4 mutant exhibited repressed growth and high sensitivity to salinity and oxidative stress, and recombinant OsGST4 protein was found to have ROS–scavenging activity in vitro. Expectedly, overexpression of OsMADS25 significantly enhanced the tolerance to salinity and oxidative stress in rice plants, with the elevated activity of antioxidant enzymes, increased accumulation of osmoprotective solute proline and reduced frequency of open stoma. Furthermore, OsMADS25 specifically activated the transcription of OsP5CR, a key component of proline biosynthesis, by binding to its promoter. Interestingly, overexpression of OsMADS25 raised the root sensitivity to exogenous ABA, and the expression of ABA–dependent stress–responsive genes was elevated greatly in overexpression plants under salinity stress. In addition, OsMADS25 seemed to promote auxin signaling by activating OsYUC4 transcription. Taken together, our findings reveal that OsMADS25 might be an important transcriptional regulator that regulates the root growth and confers salinity tolerance in rice via the ABA–mediated regulatory pathway and ROS scavenging.

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