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Open Access Research article

Expression profiling on soybean leaves reveals integration of ER- and osmotic-stress pathways

André ST Irsigler12, Maximiller DL Costa1, Ping Zhang3, Pedro AB Reis1, Ralph E Dewey3, Rebecca S Boston4 and Elizabeth PB Fontes1*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, BIOAGRO, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36571.000 Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil

2 Molecular Core Facility, Department of Biology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4370, USA

3 Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

4 Department of Plant Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:431  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-431

Published: 23 November 2007

Abstract

Background

Despite the potential of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response to accommodate adaptive pathways, its integration with other environmental-induced responses is poorly understood in plants. We have previously demonstrated that the ER-stress sensor binding protein (BiP) from soybean exhibits an unusual response to drought. The members of the soybean BiP gene family are differentially regulated by osmotic stress and soybean BiP confers tolerance to drought. While these results may reflect crosstalk between the osmotic and ER-stress signaling pathways, the lack of mutants, transcriptional response profiles to stresses and genome sequence information of this relevant crop has limited our attempts to identify integrated networks between osmotic and ER stress-induced adaptive responses. As a fundamental step towards this goal, we performed global expression profiling on soybean leaves exposed to polyethylene glycol treatment (osmotic stress) or to ER stress inducers.

Results

The up-regulated stress-specific changes unmasked the major branches of the ER-stress response, which include enhancing protein folding and degradation in the ER, as well as specific osmotically regulated changes linked to cellular responses induced by dehydration. However, a small proportion (5.5%) of total up-regulated genes represented a shared response that seemed to integrate the two signaling pathways. These co-regulated genes were considered downstream targets based on similar induction kinetics and a synergistic response to the combination of osmotic- and ER-stress-inducing treatments. Genes in this integrated pathway with the strongest synergistic induction encoded proteins with diverse roles, such as plant-specific development and cell death (DCD) domain-containing proteins, an ubiquitin-associated (UBA) protein homolog and NAC domain-containing proteins. This integrated pathway diverged further from characterized specific branches of ER-stress as downstream targets were inversely regulated by osmotic stress.

Conclusion

The present ER-stress- and osmotic-stress-induced transcriptional studies demonstrate a clear predominance of stimulus-specific positive changes over shared responses on soybean leaves. This scenario indicates that polyethylene glycol (PEG)-induced cellular dehydration and ER stress elicited very different up-regulated responses within a 10-h stress treatment regime. In addition to identifying ER-stress and osmotic-stress-specific responses in soybean (Glycine max), our global expression-profiling analyses provided a list of candidate regulatory components, which may integrate the osmotic-stress and ER-stress signaling pathways in plants.