Drought and salt stress tolerance of an Arabidopsis glutathione S-transferase U17 knockout mutant are attributed to the combined effect of glutathione and abscisic acid

Plant Physiol. 2012 Jan;158(1):340-51. doi: 10.1104/pp.111.181875. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Although glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are thought to play major roles in oxidative stress metabolism, little is known about the regulatory functions of GSTs. We have reported that Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) GLUTATHIONE S-TRANSFERASE U17 (AtGSTU17; At1g10370) participates in light signaling and might modulate various aspects of development by affecting glutathione (GSH) pools via a coordinated regulation with phytochrome A. Here, we provide further evidence to support a negative role of AtGSTU17 in drought and salt stress tolerance. When AtGSTU17 was mutated, plants were more tolerant to drought and salt stresses compared with wild-type plants. In addition, atgstu17 accumulated higher levels of GSH and abscisic acid (ABA) and exhibited hyposensitivity to ABA during seed germination, smaller stomatal apertures, a lower transpiration rate, better development of primary and lateral root systems, and longer vegetative growth. To explore how atgstu17 accumulated higher ABA content, we grew wild-type plants in the solution containing GSH and found that they accumulated ABA to a higher extent than plants grown in the absence of GSH, and they also exhibited the atgstu17 phenotypes. Wild-type plants treated with GSH also demonstrated more tolerance to drought and salt stresses. Furthermore, the effect of GSH on root patterning and drought tolerance was confirmed by growing the atgstu17 in solution containing l-buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine, a specific inhibitor of GSH biosynthesis. In conclusion, the atgstu17 phenotype can be explained by the combined effect of GSH and ABA. We propose a role of AtGSTU17 in adaptive responses to drought and salt stresses by functioning as a negative component of stress-mediated signal transduction pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Abscisic Acid / pharmacology
  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine / pharmacology
  • Droughts*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Germination / drug effects
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plant Stomata / drug effects
  • Salt Tolerance*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione