The SHINE clade of AP2 domain transcription factors activates wax biosynthesis, alters cuticle properties, and confers drought tolerance when overexpressed in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. 2004 Sep;16(9):2463-80. doi: 10.1105/tpc.104.022897. Epub 2004 Aug 19.


The interface between plants and the environment plays a dual role as a protective barrier as well as a medium for the exchange of gases, water, and nutrients. The primary aerial plant surfaces are covered by a cuticle, acting as the essential permeability barrier toward the atmosphere. It is a heterogeneous layer composed mainly of lipids, namely cutin and intracuticular wax with epicuticular waxes deposited on the surface. We identified an Arabidopsis thaliana activation tag gain-of-function mutant shine (shn) that displayed a brilliant, shiny green leaf surface with increased cuticular wax compared with the leaves of wild-type plants. The gene responsible for the phenotype encodes one member of a clade of three proteins of undisclosed function, belonging to the plant-specific family of AP2/EREBP transcription factors. Overexpression of all three SHN clade genes conferred a phenotype similar to that of the original shn mutant. Biochemically, such plants were altered in wax composition (very long fatty acid derivatives). Total cuticular wax levels were increased sixfold in shn compared with the wild type, mainly because of a ninefold increase in alkanes that comprised approximately half of the total waxes in the mutant. Chlorophyll leaching assays and fresh weight loss experiments indicated that overexpression of the SHN genes increased cuticle permeability, probably because of changes in its ultrastructure. Likewise, SHN gene overexpression altered leaf and petal epidermal cell structure, trichome number, and branching as well as the stomatal index. Interestingly, SHN overexpressors displayed significant drought tolerance and recovery, probably related to the reduced stomatal density. Expression analysis using promoter-beta-glucuronidase fusions of the SHN genes provides evidence for the role of the SHN clade in plant protective layers, such as those formed during abscission, dehiscence, wounding, tissue strengthening, and the cuticle. We propose that these diverse functions are mediated by regulating metabolism of lipid and/or cell wall components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / genetics
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Dehydration / genetics
  • Dehydration / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Epidermis / genetics
  • Plant Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Plant Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / isolation & purification
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Waxes / metabolism*


  • APETALA2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Shn1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Shn2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Shn3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Waxes

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AAL75809
  • GENBANK/BAD15859