Meta-analysis of the effects of overexpression of WRKY transcription factors on plant responses to drought stress.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The tryptophan-arginine-lysine-tyrosine (WRKY) transcription factors play important roles in plants, allowing them to adapt to environmental conditions that are not normally conducive to plant growth; in particular, drought. There has been extensive research on WRKY transcription factors and the effects of their overexpression in plants on resistance to drought stress. However, due to the materials (the type and species of donor and receptor, promoters) and treatments (the type and time of stress) used, different and often confounding results have been obtained between studies. Meta-analysis is a powerful statistical tool that can be used to summarize results from numerous independent experiments on the same research topic while accounting for variability across experiments. RESULTS:We carried out a meta-analysis of 16 measured parameters that affect drought resistance in plants overexpressing WRKY transcription factors and wild-type plants. We found that only one of these parameters was significantly different between transgenic and wild-type plants under drought and control conditions at a 95% confidence interval (p = 0.000, p = 0.009, respectively). Eleven of the sixteen parameters were obviously different in WRKY transgenic plants under drought and control conditions (SV, p = 0.023, SSC, p = 0.000, SOD, p = 0.012, SFW, p = 0.000, RL, p = 0.016, Pro, p = 0.000, POD, p = 0.027, MDA, p = 0.000, H2O2, p = 0.003, EL, p = 0.000, CHC, p = 0.000, respectively), seven of the eleven obviously different parameters showed positive effect (SSC, SOD, Pro, POD, MDA, H2O2, EL), four of them revealed negative effect (SV, SFW, RL, CHC). CONCLUSION:We have found that only one of these parameters was significantly different between transgenic and wild-type plants under drought and control conditions respectively, at a 95% confidence interval. And eleven of sixteen parameters showed obviously different of WRKY-overexpressed plants under different conditions (water-stressed and normal), suggesting that WRKY transcription factors play an important role in plant responses to drought stress. These findings also provide a theoretical basis for further study of the role of WRKY transcription factors in the regulation of plant responses to environmental stress.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Plants are sessile organisms and are unable to relocate to favorable locations under extreme environmental conditions. Hence they have no choice but to acclimate and eventually adapt to the severe conditions to ensure their survival. As traditional methods of bolstering plant defense against stressful conditions come to their biological limit, we require newer methods that can allow us to strengthen plants' internal defense mechanism. These factors motivated us to look into the genetic networks of plants. The WRKY transcription factors are well known for their role in plant defense against biotic stresses, but recent studies have shed light on their activities against abiotic stresses such as drought. We modeled this network of WRKY transcription factors using Bayesian networks and applied inference algorithm to find the best regulators of drought response. Biologically intervening (activating/inhibiting) these regulators can bolster the defense response of plants against droughts. RESULT:We used real world data from the NCBI GEO database and synthetic data generated from dependencies in the Bayesian network to learn the network parameters. These parameters were estimated using both a Bayesian and a frequentist approach. The two sets of parameters were used in a utility-based inference algorithm to determine the best regulator of plant drought response in the WRKY transcription factor network. CONCLUSION:Our analysis revealed that activating the transcription factor WRKY18 had the highest likelihood of inducing drought response among all the other elements of the WRKY transcription factor network. Our observation was also supported by biological literature, as WRKY18 is known to regulate drought responsive genes positively. We also found that activating the protein complex WRKY60-60 had the second highest likelihood of inducing drought defense response. Consistent with the existing biological literature, we also found the transcription factor WRKY40 and the protein complex WRKY40-40 to suppress drought response.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The plant homeodomain (PHD) finger is a Cys4HisCys3-type zinc finger which promotes protein-protein interactions and binds to the cis-acting elements in the promoter regions of target genes. In Medicago truncatula, five PHD homologues with full-length sequence were identified. However, the detailed function of PHD genes was not fully addressed. RESULTS:In this study, we characterized the function of MtPHD6 during plant responses to drought stress. MtPHD6 was highly induced by drought stress. Ectopic expression of MtPHD6 in Arabidopsis enhanced tolerance to osmotic and drought stresses. MtPHD6 transgenic plants exhibited decreased water loss rate, MDA and ROS contents, and increased leaf water content and antioxidant enzyme activities under drought condition. Global transcriptomic analysis revealed that MtPHD6 reprogramed transcriptional networks in transgenic plants. Expression levels of ABA receptor PYR/PYLs, ZINC FINGER, AP2/EREBP and WRKY transcription factors were mainly up-regulated after transformation of MtPHD6. Interaction network analysis showed that ZINC FINGER, AP2/EREBP and WRKY interacted with each other and downstream stress induced proteins. CONCLUSIONS:We proposed that ZINC FINGER, AP2/EREBP and WRKY transcription factors were activated through ABA dependent and independent pathways to increase drought tolerance of MtPHD6 transgenic plants.
Project description:WRKY transcription factors (TFs) constitute one of the largest protein families in higher plants, and its members contain one or two conserved WRKY domains, about 60 amino acid residues with the WRKYGQK sequence followed by a C2H2 or C2HC zinc finger motif. WRKY proteins play significant roles in plant development, and in responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Pear (Pyrus bretschneideri) is one of the most important fruit crops in the world and is frequently threatened by abiotic stress, such as drought, affecting growth, development and productivity. Although the pear genome sequence has been released, little is known about the WRKY TFs in pear, especially in respond to drought stress at the genome-wide level.We identified a total of 103 WRKY TFs in the pear genome. Based on the structural features of WRKY proteins and topology of the phylogenetic tree, the pear WRKY (PbWRKY) family was classified into seven groups (Groups 1, 2a-e, and 3). The microsyteny analysis indicated that 33 (32%) PbWRKY genes were tandemly duplicated and 57 genes (55.3%) were segmentally duplicated. RNA-seq experiment data and quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR revealed that PbWRKY genes in different groups were induced by drought stress, and Group 2a and 3 were mainly involved in the biological pathways in response to drought stress. Furthermore, adaptive evolution analysis detected a significant positive selection for Pbr001425 in Group 3, and its expression pattern differed from that of other members in this group. The present study provides a solid foundation for further functional dissection and molecular evolution of WRKY TFs in pear, especially for improving the water-deficient resistance of pear through manipulation of the PbWRKYs.
Project description:The WRKY transcription factors modulate numerous physiological processes, including plant growth, development and responses to various environmental stresses. Currently, our understanding of the functions of the majority of the WRKY family members and their possible roles in signalling crosstalk is limited. In particular, very few WRKYs have been identified and characterised from an economically important crop, cotton. In this study, we characterised a novel group IIc WRKY gene, GhWRKY68, which is induced by different abiotic stresses and multiple defence-related signalling molecules. The ?-glucuronidase activity driven by the GhWRKY68 promoter was enhanced after exposure to drought, salt, abscisic acid (ABA) and H2O2. The overexpression of GhWRKY68 in Nicotiana benthamiana reduced resistance to drought and salt and affected several physiological indices. GhWRKY68 may mediate salt and drought responses by modulating ABA content and enhancing the transcript levels of ABA-responsive genes. GhWRKY68-overexpressing plants exhibited reduced tolerance to oxidative stress after drought and salt stress treatments, which correlated with the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), reduced enzyme activities, elevated malondialdehyde (MDA) content and altered ROS-related gene expression. These results indicate that GhWRKY68 is a transcription factor that responds to drought and salt stresses by regulating ABA signalling and modulating cellular ROS.
Project description:Abiotic stresses restrict the growth and yield of crops. Plants have developed a number of regulatory mechanisms to respond to these stresses. WRKY transcription factors (TFs) are plant-specific transcription factors that play essential roles in multiple plant processes, including abiotic stress response. At present, little information regarding drought-related WRKY genes in maize is available. In this study, we identified a WRKY transcription factor gene from maize, named ZmWRKY40. ZmWRKY40 is a member of WRKY group II, localized in the nucleus of mesophyll protoplasts. Several stress-related transcriptional regulatory elements existed in the promoter region of ZmWRKY40. ZmWRKY40 was induced by drought, high salinity, high temperature, and abscisic acid (ABA). ZmWRKY40 could rapidly respond to drought with peak levels (more than 10-fold) at 1 h after treatment. Overexpression of ZmWRKY40 improved drought tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis by regulating stress-related genes, and the reactive oxygen species (ROS) content in transgenic lines was reduced by enhancing the activities of peroxide dismutase (POD) and catalase (CAT) under drought stress. According to the results, the present study may provide a candidate gene involved in the drought stress response and a theoretical basis to understand the mechanisms of ZmWRKY40 in response to abiotic stresses in maize.
Project description:The WRKY family, a large family of transcription factors (TFs) found in higher plants, plays central roles in many aspects of physiological processes and adaption to environment. However, little information is available regarding the WRKY family in cassava (Manihot esculenta). In the present study, 85 WRKY genes were identified from the cassava genome and classified into three groups according to conserved WRKY domains and zinc-finger structure. Conserved motif analysis showed that all of the identified MeWRKYs had the conserved WRKY domain. Gene structure analysis suggested that the number of introns in MeWRKY genes varied from 1 to 5, with the majority of MeWRKY genes containing three exons. Expression profiles of MeWRKY genes in different tissues and in response to drought stress were analyzed using the RNA-seq technique. The results showed that 72 MeWRKY genes had differential expression in their transcript abundance and 78 MeWRKY genes were differentially expressed in response to drought stresses in different accessions, indicating their contribution to plant developmental processes and drought stress resistance in cassava. Finally, the expression of 9 WRKY genes was analyzed by qRT-PCR under osmotic, salt, ABA, H2O2, and cold treatments, indicating that MeWRKYs may be involved in different signaling pathways. Taken together, this systematic analysis identifies some tissue-specific and abiotic stress-responsive candidate MeWRKY genes for further functional assays in planta, and provides a solid foundation for understanding of abiotic stress responses and signal transduction mediated by WRKYs in cassava.
Project description:WRKY transcription factors regulate diverse biological processes in plants, including abiotic and biotic stress responses, and constitute one of the largest transcription factor families in higher plants. Although the past decade has seen significant progress towards identifying and functionally characterizing WRKY genes in diverse species, little is known about the WRKY family in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) moench). Here we report the comprehensive identification of 94 putative WRKY transcription factors (SbWRKYs). The SbWRKYs were divided into three groups (I, II, and III), with those in group II further classified into five subgroups (IIa-IIe), based on their conserved domains and zinc finger motif types. WRKYs from the model plant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) were used for the phylogenetic analysis of all SbWRKY genes. Motif analysis showed that all SbWRKYs contained either one or two WRKY domains and that SbWRKYs within the same group had similar motif compositions. SbWRKY genes were located on all 10 sorghum chromosomes, and some gene clusters and two tandem duplications were detected. SbWRKY gene structure analysis showed that they contained 0-7 introns, with most SbWRKY genes consisting of two introns and three exons. Gene ontology (GO) annotation functionally categorized SbWRKYs under cellular components, molecular functions and biological processes. A cis-element analysis showed that all SbWRKYs contain at least one stress response-related cis-element. We exploited publicly available microarray datasets to analyze the expression profiles of 78 SbWRKY genes at different growth stages and in different tissues. The induction of SbWRKYs by different abiotic stresses hinted at their potential involvement in stress responses. qRT-PCR analysis revealed different expression patterns for SbWRKYs during drought stress. Functionally characterized WRKY genes in Arabidopsis and other species will provide clues for the functional characterization of putative orthologs in sorghum. Thus, the present study delivers a solid foundation for future functional studies of SbWRKY genes and their roles in the response to critical stresses such as drought.
Project description:As a superfamily of transcription factors, the tryptophan-arginine-lysine-tyrosine (WRKY) transcription factors have been found to be essential for abiotic and biotic stress responses in plants. Currently, only 76 WRKY transcription factors in wheat could be identified in the NCBI database, among which only a few have been functionally analyzed. Herein, a total of 188 WRKY transcription factors were identified from the wheat genome database, which included 123 full-length coding sequences, and all of them were used for detailed evolution studies. By bioinformatics analysis, a WRKY transcription factor, named TaWRKY146, was found to be the homologous gene of AtWRKY46, overexpression of which leads to hypersensitivity to drought and salt stress in Arabidopsis. Consequently, the full length of TaWRKY146 was cloned, and the expression levels of TaWRKY146 were found significantly up-regulated in the leaves and roots of wheat seedlings, which were subjected to osmotic stress. Overexpression of TaWRKY146 in Arabidopsis was shown to enhance drought tolerance by the induction of stomatal closure that reduced the transpiration rate. All these results provide a firm foundation for further identification of WRKY transcription factors with important functions in wheat.
Project description:WRKY transcription factors have diverse functions in regulating stress response, leaf senescence, and plant growth and development. However, knowledge of the group IId WRKY subfamily in cotton is largely absent. This study identified 34 group IId WRKY genes in the Gossypium hirsutum genome, and their genomic loci were investigated. Members clustered together in the phylogenetic tree had similar motif compositions and gene structural features, revealing similarity and conservation within group IId WRKY genes. During the evolutionary process, 14 duplicated genes appeared to undergo purification selection. Public RNA-seq data were used to examine the expression patterns of group IId WRKY genes in various tissues and under drought and salt stress conditions. Ten highly expressed genes were identified, and the ten candidate genes revealed distinct expression patterns under drought and salt treatments by qRT-PCR analysis. Among them, Gh_A11G1801 was used for functional characterization. GUS activity was differentially induced by various stresses in Gh_A11G1801p::GUS transgenic Arabidopsis plants. The virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of Gh_A11G1801 resulted in drought sensitivity in cotton plants, which was accompanied by elevated malondialdehyde (MDA) content and reduced catalase (CAT) content. Taken together, these findings obtained in this study provide valuable resources for further studying group IId WRKY genes in cotton. Our results also enrich the gene resources for the genetic improvements of cotton varieties that are suitable for growth in stressful conditions.
Project description:As the important source of natural fibers in the textile industry, cotton fiber quality and yield are often restricted to drought conditions because most of cotton plants in the world grow in the regions with water shortage. WRKY transcription factors regulate multiple plant physiological processes, including drought stress response. However, little is known of how the WRKY genes respond to drought stress in cotton. Our previous study revealed GhWRKY33 is leaf-specific and induced by drought stress. In this study, our data showed GhWRKY33 protein localizes to the cell nucleus and is able to bind to "W-box" cis-acting elements of the target promoters. Under drought stress, GhWRKY33 overexpressing transgenic Arabidopsis was withered much more quickly than wild type due to faster water loss. Moreover, GhWRKY33 transgenic plants displayed more tolerance to abscisic acid (ABA), relative to wild type. Expression of some drought stress-related genes and ABA-responsive genes were changed in the GhWRKY33 transgenic Arabidopsis with drought or ABA treatment. Collectively, our findings indicate that GhWRKY33 may act as a negative regulator to mediate plant response to drought stress and to participate in the ABA signaling pathway.