ABI3, originally discovered as a seed-specific transcription factor is now implicated to act beyond seed physiology, especially during abiotic stress. In non-seed plants, ABI3 is known to act in desiccation stress signaling. Here we show that ABI3 plays a role in dehydration stress response in Arabidopsis. ABI3 gene was upregulated during dehydration stress and its expression was maintained during subsequent stress recovery phases. Comparative gene expression studies in response to dehydration stress and stress recovery were done with genes which had potential ABI3 binding sites in their upstream regulatory regions. Such studies showed that several genes including known seed-specific factors like CRUCIFERIN1, CRUCIFERIN3 and LEA-group of genes like LEA76, LEA6, DEHYDRIN LEA and LEA-LIKE got upregulated in an ABI3-dependent manner, especially during the stress recovery phase. ABI3 got recruited to regions upstream to the transcription start site of these genes during dehydration stress response through direct or indirect DNA binding. Interestingly, ABI3 also binds to its own promoter region during such stress signaling. Nucleosomes covering potential ABI3 binding sites in the upstream sequences of the above-mentioned genes alter positions, and show increased H3 K9 acetylation during stress-induced transcription. ABI3 thus mediates dehydration stress signaling in Arabidopsis through regulation of a group of genes that play a role primarily during stress recovery phase.
Keywords: ABI3; Arabidopsis thaliana; Dehydration stress; Gene expression; Nucleosome; Recovery; Transcription regulation.
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