In order to assess the functional roles of heat stress-induced class B-heat shock factors in Arabidopsis, we investigated T-DNA knockout mutants of AtHsfB1 and AtHsfB2b. Micorarray analysis of double knockout hsfB1/hsfB2b plants revealed as strong an up-regulation of the basal mRNA-levels of the defensin genes Pdf1.2a/b in mutant plants. The Pdf expression was further enhanced by jasmonic acid treatment or infection with the necrotrophic fungus Alternaria brassicicola. The single mutant hsfB2b and the double mutant hsfB1/B2b were significantly improved in disease resistance after A. brassicicola infection. There was no indication for a direct interaction of Hsf with the promoter of Pdf1.2, which is devoid of perfect HSE consensus Hsf-binding sequences. However, changes in the formation of late HsfA2-dependent HSE binding were detected in hsfB1/B2b plants. This suggests that HsfB1/B2b may interact with class A-Hsf in regulating the shut-off of the heat shock response. The identification of Pdf genes as targets of Hsf-dependent negative regulation is the first evidence for an interconnection of Hsf in the regulation of biotic and abiotic responses.
Keywords: Abiotic/environmental stress; Arabidopsis; defense responses; disease resistance; transcriptional control and transcription factors; transcriptome analysis.