Identification of regulatory pathways controlling gene expression of stress-responsive mitochondrial proteins in Arabidopsis

Plant Physiol. 2008 Aug;147(4):1858-73. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.121384. Epub 2008 Jun 20.


In this study we analyzed transcript abundance and promoters of genes encoding mitochondrial proteins to identify signaling pathways that regulate stress-induced gene expression. We used Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) alternative oxidase AOX1a, external NADP H-dehydrogenase NDB2, and two additional highly stress-responsive genes, At2g21640 and BCS1. As a starting point, the promoter region of AOX1a was analyzed and functional analysis identified 10 cis-acting regulatory elements (CAREs), which played a role in response to treatment with H(2)O(2), rotenone, or both. Six of these elements were also functional in the NDB2 promoter. The promoter region of At2g21640, previously defined as a hallmark of oxidative stress, shared two functional CAREs with AOX1a and was responsive to treatment with H(2)O(2) but not rotenone. Microarray analysis further supported that signaling pathways induced by H(2)O(2) and rotenone are not identical. The promoter of BCS1 was not responsive to H(2)O(2) or rotenone, but highly responsive to salicylic acid (SA), whereas the promoters of AOX1a and NDB2 were unresponsive to SA. Analysis of transcript abundance of these genes in a variety of defense signaling mutants confirmed that BCS1 expression is regulated in a different manner compared to AOX1a, NDB2, and At2g21640. These mutants also revealed a pathway associated with programmed cell death that regulated AOX1a in a manner distinct from the other genes. Thus, at least three distinctive pathways regulate mitochondrial stress response at a transcriptional level, an SA-dependent pathway represented by BCS1, a second pathway that represents a convergence point for signals generated by H(2)O(2) and rotenone on multiple CAREs, some of which are shared between responsive genes, and a third pathway that acts via EDS1 and PAD4 regulating only AOX1a. Furthermore, posttranscriptional regulation accounts for changes in transcript abundance by SA treatment for some genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oxidoreductases / chemistry
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rotenone / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Uncoupling Agents / pharmacology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Rotenone
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Oxidoreductases
  • alternative oxidase