In terrestrial environments, temperature and water conditions are highly variable, and extreme temperatures and water conditions affect the survival, growth and reproduction of plants. To protect cells and sustain growth under such conditions of abiotic stress, plants respond to unfavourable changes in their environments in developmental, physiological and biochemical ways. These responses require expression of stress-responsive genes, which are regulated by a network of transcription factors. The AP2/ERF family is a large family of plant-specific transcription factors that share a well-conserved DNA-binding domain. This transcription factor family includes DRE-binding proteins (DREBs), which activate the expression of abiotic stress-responsive genes via specific binding to the dehydration-responsive element/C-repeat (DRE/CRT) cis-acting element in their promoters. In this review, we discuss the functions of the AP2/ERF-type transcription factors in plant abiotic stress responses, with special emphasis on the regulations and functions of two major types of DREBs, DREB1/CBF and DREB2. In addition, we summarise the involvement of other AP2/ERF-type transcription factors in abiotic stress responses, which has recently become clear. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Plant gene regulation in response to abiotic stress.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.