Constitutive production of nitric oxide leads to enhanced drought stress resistance and extensive transcriptional reprogramming in Arabidopsis

J Exp Bot. 2014 Aug;65(15):4119-31. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru184. Epub 2014 May 27.


Nitric oxide (NO) is involved in plant responses to many environmental stresses. Transgenic Arabidopsis lines that constitutively express rat neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) were described recently. In this study, it is reported that the nNOS transgenic Arabidopsis plants displayed high levels of osmolytes and increased antioxidant enzyme activities. Transcriptomic analysis identified 601 or 510 genes that were differentially expressed as a consequence of drought stress or nNOS transformation, respectively. Pathway and gene ontology (GO) term enrichment analyses revealed that genes involved in photosynthesis, redox, stress, and phytohormone and secondary metabolism were greatly affected by the nNOS transgene. Several CBF genes and members of zinc finger gene families, which are known to regulate transcription in the stress response, were changed by the nNOS transgene. Genes regulated by both the nNOS transgene and abscisic acid (ABA) treatments were compared and identified, including those for two ABA receptors (AtPYL4 and AtPYL5). Moreover, overexpression of AtPYL4 and AtPYL5 enhanced drought resistance, antioxidant enzyme activity, and osmolyte levels. These observations increase our understanding of the role of NO in drought stress response in Arabidopsis.

Keywords: Abscisic acid; PYL; drought stress; in vivo; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; nitric oxide; physiological; transcriptomic..

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Droughts*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • PYL4 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I