Cys2/His2-type zinc finger proteins, which contain the EAR transcriptional repressor domain, are thought to play a key role in regulating the defense response of plants to biotic and abiotic stress conditions. Although constitutive expression of several of these proteins was shown to enhance the tolerance of transgenic plants to abiotic stress, it is not clear whether the EAR-motif of these proteins is involved in this function. In addition, it is not clear whether suppression of plant growth, induced in transgenic plants by different Cys2/His2 EAR-containing proteins, is mediated by the EAR-domain. Here we report that transgenic Arabidopsis plants constitutively expressing the Cys2/His2 zinc finger protein Zat7 have suppressed growth and are more tolerant to salinity stress. A deletion or a mutation of the EAR-motif of Zat7 abolishes salinity tolerance without affecting growth suppression. These results demonstrate that the EAR-motif of Zat7 is directly involved in enhancing the tolerance of transgenic plants to salinity stress. In contrast, the EAR-motif appears not to be involved in suppressing the growth of transgenic plants. Further analysis of Zat7 using RNAi lines suggests that Zat7 functions in Arabidopsis to suppress a repressor of defense responses. A yeast two-hybrid analysis identified putative interactors of Zat7 and the EAR-domain, including WRKY70 and HASTY, a protein involved in miRNA transport. Our findings demonstrate that the EAR-domain of Cys2/His2-type zinc finger proteins plays a key role in the defense response of Arabidopsis to abiotic stresses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology