A Rice NAC Transcription Factor Promotes Leaf Senescence via ABA Biosynthesis

Plant Physiol. 2017 Jul;174(3):1747-1763. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00542. Epub 2017 May 12.


It is well known that abscisic acid (ABA)-induced leaf senescence and premature leaf senescence negatively affect the yield of rice (Oryza sativa). However, the molecular mechanism underlying this relationship, especially the upstream transcriptional network that modulates ABA level during leaf senescence, remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate a rice NAC transcription factor, OsNAC2, that participates in ABA-induced leaf senescence. Overexpression of OsNAC2 dramatically accelerated leaf senescence, whereas its knockdown lines showed a delay in leaf senescence. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative PCR, dual-luciferase, and yeast one-hybrid assays demonstrated that OsNAC2 directly activates expression of chlorophyll degradation genes, OsSGR and OsNYC3 Moreover, ectopic expression of OsNAC2 leads to an increase in ABA levels via directly up-regulating expression of ABA biosynthetic genes (OsNCED3 and OsZEP1) as well as down-regulating the ABA catabolic gene (OsABA8ox1). Interestingly, OsNAC2 is upregulated by a lower level of ABA but downregulated by a higher level of ABA, indicating a feedback repression of OsNAC2 by ABA. Additionally, reduced OsNAC2 expression leads to about 10% increase in the grain yield of RNAi lines. The novel ABA-NAC-SAGs regulatory module might provide a new insight into the molecular action of ABA to enhance leaf senescence and elucidates the transcriptional network of ABA production during leaf senescence in rice.

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Abscisic Acid / pharmacology
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nicotiana / genetics
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / growth & development*
  • Oryza / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • RNA Interference
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Chlorophyll
  • Abscisic Acid