CBF2/DREB1C is a negative regulator of CBF1/DREB1B and CBF3/DREB1A expression and plays a central role in stress tolerance in Arabidopsis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 16;101(11):3985-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0303029101. Epub 2004 Mar 2.


CBF/DREB1 (C-repeat-binding factor/dehydration responsive element-binding factor 1) genes encode a small family of transcriptional activators that have been described as playing an important role in freezing tolerance and cold acclimation in Arabidopsis. To specify this role, we used a reverse genetic approach and identified a mutant, cbf2, in which the CBF2/DREB1C gene was disrupted. Here, we show that cbf2 plants have higher capacity to tolerate freezing than WT ones before and after cold acclimation and are more tolerant to dehydration and salt stress. All these phenotypes correlate with a stronger and more sustained expression of CBF/DREB1-regulated genes, which results from an increased expression of CBF1/DREB1B and CBF3/DREB1A in the mutant. In addition, we show that the expression of CBF1/DREB1B and CBF3/DREB1A in response to low temperature precedes that of CBF2/DREB1C. These results indicate that CBF2/DREB1C negatively regulates CBF1/DREB1B and CBF3/DREB1A, ensuring that their expression is transient and tightly controlled, which, in turn, guarantees the proper induction of downstream genes and the accurate development of Arabidopsis tolerance to freezing and related stresses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cold Temperature
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Time Factors
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CBF1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • CBF2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DREB1A protein, Arabidopsis
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors