Article

Double overexpression of DREB and PIF transcription factors improves drought stress tolerance and cell elongation in transgenic plants.

Kudo, M; Kidokoro, S; Yoshida, T; Mizoi, J; Todaka, D; Fernie, AR; Shinozaki, K; Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, K

Plant biotechnology journal 2016

PMID: 27683092

Double overexpression of DREB and PIF transcription factors improves drought stress tolerance and cell elongation in transgenic plants.

Although a variety of transgenic plants that are tolerant to drought stress have been generated, many of these plants show growth retardation. To improve drought tolerance and plant growth, we applied a gene-stacking approach using two transcription factor genes: DEHYDRATION-RESPONSIVE ELEMENT-BINDING 1A (DREB1A) and rice PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR-LIKE 1 (OsPIL1). The overexpression of DREB1A has been reported to improve drought stress tolerance in various crops, although it also causes a severe dwarf phenotype. OsPIL1 is a rice homologue of Arabidopsis PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4), and it enhances cell elongation by activating cell wall-related gene expression. We found that the OsPIL1 protein was more stable than PIF4 under light conditions in Arabidopsis protoplasts. Transactivation analyses revealed that DREB1A and OsPIL1 did not negatively affect each other's transcriptional activities. The transgenic plants overexpressing both OsPIL1 and DREB1A showed improved drought stress tolerance similar to that of DREB1A overexpressors. Furthermore, double overexpressors showed enhanced hypocotyl elongation and floral induction compared with the DREB1A overexpressors. Metabolome analyses indicated that compatible solutes, such as sugars and amino acids, accumulated in the double overexpressors, which was similar to the observations of the DREB1A overexpressors. Transcriptome analyses showed increased expression of abiotic stress-inducible DREB1A downstream genes and cell elongation-related OsPIL1 downstream genes in the double overexpressors, which suggests that these two transcription factors function independently in the transgenic plants despite the trade-offs required to balance plant growth and stress tolerance. Our study provides a basis for plant genetic engineering designed to overcome growth retardation in drought-tolerant transgenic plants. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.