Ethylene Response Factors: A Key Regulatory Hub in Hormone and Stress Signaling

Plant Physiol. 2015 Sep;169(1):32-41. doi: 10.1104/pp.15.00677. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


Ethylene is essential for many developmental processes and a key mediator of biotic and abiotic stress responses in plants. The ethylene signaling and response pathway includes Ethylene Response Factors (ERFs), which belong to the transcription factor family APETALA2/ERF. It is well known that ERFs regulate molecular response to pathogen attack by binding to sequences containing AGCCGCC motifs (the GCC box), a cis-acting element. However, recent studies suggest that several ERFs also bind to dehydration-responsive elements and act as a key regulatory hub in plant responses to abiotic stresses. Here, we review some of the recent advances in our understanding of the ethylene signaling and response pathway, with emphasis on ERFs and their role in hormone cross talk and redox signaling under abiotic stresses. We conclude that ERFs act as a key regulatory hub, integrating ethylene, abscisic acid, jasmonate, and redox signaling in the plant response to a number of abiotic stresses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism
  • Cyclopentanes / metabolism
  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxylipins / metabolism
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Cyclopentanes
  • Ethylenes
  • Oxylipins
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • jasmonic acid
  • Abscisic Acid
  • ethylene