Abscisic-acid-dependent basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors in plant abiotic stress

Protoplasma. 2017 Jan;254(1):3-16. doi: 10.1007/s00709-015-0920-4. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


One of the major causes of significant crop loss throughout the world is the myriad of environmental stresses including drought, salinity, cold, heavy metal toxicity, and ultraviolet-B (UV-B) rays. Plants as sessile organisms have evolved various effective mechanism which enable them to withstand this plethora of stresses. Most of such regulatory mechanisms usually follow the abscisic-acid (ABA)-dependent pathway. In this review, we have primarily focussed on the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors (TFs) activated by the ABA-mediated signalosome. Upon perception of ABA by specialized receptors, the signal is transduced via various groups of Ser/Thr kinases, which phosphorylate the bZIP TFs. Following such post-translational modification of TFs, they are activated so that they bind to specific cis-acting sequences called abscisic-acid-responsive elements (ABREs) or GC-rich coupling elements (CE), thereby influencing the expression of their target downstream genes. Several in silico techniques have been adopted so far to predict the structural features, recognize the regulatory modification sites, undergo phylogenetic analyses, and facilitate genome-wide survey of TF under multiple stresses. Current investigations on the epigenetic regulation that controls greater accessibility of the inducible regions of DNA of the target gene to the bZIP TFs exclusively under stress situations, along with the evolved stress memory responses via genomic imprinting mechanism, have been highlighted. The potentiality of overexpression of bZIP TFs, either in a homologous or in a heterologous background, in generating transgenic plants tolerant to various abiotic stressors have also been addressed by various groups. The present review will provide a coherent documentation on the functional characterization and regulation of bZIP TFs under multiple environmental stresses, with the major goal of generating multiple-stress-tolerant plant cultivars in near future.

Keywords: Abscisic-acid; Basic leucine zipper; Epigenetics; In silico analyses; Transcription factors; Transgenic plants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Leucine Zippers*
  • Stress, Physiological* / genetics


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Abscisic Acid