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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

EsDREB2B, a novel truncated DREB2-type transcription factor in the desert legume Eremosparton songoricum, enhances tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses in yeast and transgenic tobacco

Xiaoshuang Li123, Daoyuan Zhang1*, Haiyan Li12, Yucheng Wang1, Yuanming Zhang1 and Andrew J Wood3

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinjiang Urumqi 830011, China

2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

3 Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6899, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-44

Published: 10 February 2014

Abstract

Background

Dehydration-Responsive Element-Binding Protein2 (DREB2) is a transcriptional factor which regulates the expression of several stress-inducible genes. DREB2-type proteins are particularly important in plant responses to drought, salt and heat. DREB2 genes have been identified and characterized in a variety of plants, and DREB2 genes are promising candidate genes for the improvement of stress tolerance in plants. However, little is known about these genes in plants adapted to water-limiting environments.

Results

In this study, we describe the characterization of EsDREB2B, a novel DREB2B gene identified from the desert plant Eremosparton songoricum. Phylogenetic analysis and motif prediction indicate that EsDREB2B encodes a truncated DREB2 polypeptide that belongs to a legume-specific DREB2 group. In E. songoricum, EsDREB2B transcript accumulation was induced by a variety of abiotic stresses, including drought, salinity, cold, heat, heavy metal, mechanical wounding, oxidative stress and exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) treatment. Consistent with the predicted role as a transcription factor, EsDREB2B was targeted to the nucleus of onion epidermal cells and exhibited transactivation activity of a GAL4-containing reporter gene in yeast. In transgenic yeast, overexpression of EsDREB2B increased tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses. Our findings indicate that EsDREB2B can enhance stress tolerance in other plant species. Heterologous expression of EsDREB2B in tobacco showed improved tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses, and the transgenic plants exhibited no reduction in foliar growth. We observed that EsDREB2B is a functional DREB2-orthologue able to influence the physiological and biochemical response of transgenic tobacco to stress.

Conclusions

Based upon these findings, EsDREB2B encodes an abiotic stress-inducible, transcription factor which confers abiotic stress-tolerance in yeast and transgenic tobacco.

Keywords:
Cold; DREB; Drought; Heat; Proline; Salt; Stress; Transcript accumulation; Transgenic tobacco