Scientific reports 2016
Evidence for nuclear interaction of a cytoskeleton protein (OsIFL) with metallothionein and its role in salinity stress tolerance.
Soil salinity is being perceived as a major threat to agriculture. Plant breeders and molecular biologist are putting their best efforts to raise salt-tolerant crops. The discovery of the Saltol QTL, a major QTL localized on chromosome I, responsible for salt tolerance at seedling stage in rice has given new hopes for raising salinity tolerant rice genotypes. In the present study, we have functionally characterized a Saltol QTL localized cytoskeletal protein, intermediate filament like protein (OsIFL), of rice. Studies related to intermediate filaments are emerging in plants, especially with respect to their involvement in abiotic stress response. Our investigations clearly establish that the heterologous expression of OsIFL in three diverse organisms (bacteria, yeast and tobacco) provides survival advantage towards diverse abiotic stresses. Screening of rice cDNA library revealed OsIFL to be strongly interacting with metallothionein protein. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay further confirmed this interaction to be occurring inside the nucleus. Overexpression of OsIFL in transgenic tobacco plants conferred salinity stress tolerance by maintaining favourable K(+)/Na(+) ratio and thus showed protection from salinity stress induced ion toxicity. This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of a cytoskeletal protein in salinity stress tolerance in diverse organisms.