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Transcription factor TabHLH49 positively regulates dehydrin WZY2 gene expression and enhances drought stress tolerance in wheat

Hao Liu, Ying Yang, Dandan Liu, Xiaoyu Wang,and Linsheng Zhang

BMC Plant Biology

doi: 10.1186/s12870-020-02474-5

Abstract:

Background

As functional proteins, dehydrins are found in many maturing seeds and vegetable tissues under adverse environmental conditions. However, the regulation of dehydrin expression remains unclear.

Results

In this study, a novel drought stress-related bHLH transcription factor, TabHLH49, was isolated from a wheat cDNA library treated with the drought and cold stress by using yeast one-hybrid system. TabHLH49 protein possesses a typical conserved bHLH domain and is a Myc-type bHLH transcription factor. TabHLH49 was detected in the nucleus of tobacco epidermal cells, and the amino acid sequences at the C-terminus (amino acids 323–362) is necessary for its transactivation activity. Real-time PCR analyses revealed the tissue-specific expression and drought stress-responsive expression of TabHLH49 in wheat. In addition, the verification in Y1H and electrophoretic mobility shift assays illustrated that TabHLH49 protein can bind and interact with the promoter of the wheat WZY2 dehydrin. Furthermore, the dual-luciferase assays showed that TabHLH49 can positively regulate the expression of WZY2 dehydrin. The transient expression and BSMV-mediated gene silencing of TabHLH49 also showed that TabHLH49 positively regulates the expression of WZY2 dehydrin and improves drought stress resistance in wheat.

Conclusions

These results provide direct evidences that TabHLH49 positively regulates expression level of dehydrin WZY2 gene and improves drought tolerance of wheat.