Transcriptome analyses of a salt-tolerant cytokinin-deficient mutant reveal differential regulation of salt stress response by cytokinin deficiency

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032124. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


Soil destruction by abiotic environmental conditions, such as high salinity, has resulted in dramatic losses of arable land, giving rise to the need of studying mechanisms of plant adaptation to salt stress aimed at creating salt-tolerant plants. Recently, it has been reported that cytokinins (CKs) regulate plant environmental stress responses through two-component systems. A decrease in endogenous CK levels could enhance salt and drought stress tolerance. Here, we have investigated the global transcriptional change caused by a reduction in endogenous CK content under both normal and salt stress conditions. Ten-day-old Arabidopsis thaliana wild-type (WT) and CK-deficient ipt1,3,5,7 plants were transferred to agar plates containing either 0 mM (control) or 200 mM NaCl and maintained at normal growth conditions for 24 h. Our experimental design allowed us to compare transcriptome changes under four conditions: WT-200 mM vs. WT-0 mM, ipt1,3,5,7-0 mM vs. WT-0 mM, ipt1,3,5,7-200 mM vs. ipt1,3,5,7-0 mM and ipt1,3,5,7-200 mM vs. WT-200 mM NaCl. Our results indicated that the expression of more than 10% of all of the annotated Arabidopsis genes was altered by CK deficiency under either normal or salt stress conditions when compared to WT. We found that upregulated expression of many genes encoding either regulatory proteins, such as NAC, DREB and ZFHD transcription factors and the calcium sensor SOS3, or functional proteins, such as late embryogenesis-abundant proteins, xyloglucan endo-transglycosylases, glycosyltransferases, glycoside hydrolases, defensins and glyoxalase I family proteins, may contribute to improved salt tolerance of CK-deficient plants. We also demonstrated that the downregulation of photosynthesis-related genes and the upregulation of several NAC genes may cause the altered morphological phenotype of CK-deficient plants. This study highlights the impact of CK regulation on the well-known stress-responsive signaling pathways, which regulate plant adaptation to high salinity as well as other environmental stresses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Cytokinins / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Salt-Tolerant Plants*
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokinins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sodium Chloride

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE32087