Dehydration-responsive nuclear proteome landscape of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) reveals phosphorylation-mediated regulation of stress response

Plant Cell Environ. 2019 Jan;42(1):230-244. doi: 10.1111/pce.13334. Epub 2018 Jun 8.


Nonavailability of water or dehydration remains recurring climatic disorder affecting yield of major food crops, legumes in particular. Nuclear proteins (NPs) and phosphoproteins (NPPs) execute crucial cellular functions that form the regulatory hub for coordinated stress response. Phosphoproteins hold enormous influence over cellular signalling. Four-week-old seedlings of a grain legume, chickpea, were subjected to gradual dehydration, and NPs were extracted from unstressed control and from 72- and 144-hr stressed tissues. We identified 4,832 NPs and 478 phosphosites, corresponding to 299 unique NPPs involved in multivariate cellular processes including protein modification and gene expression regulation, among others. The identified proteins included several novel kinases, phosphatases, and transcription factors, besides 660 uncharacterized proteins. Spliceosome complex and splicing related proteins were dominant among differentially regulated NPPs, indicating their dehydration modulated regulation. Phospho-motif analysis revealed stress-induced enrichment of proline-directed serine phosphorylation. Association mapping of NPPs revealed predominance of differential phosphorylation of spliceosome and splicing associated proteins. Also, regulatory proteins of key processes viz., protein degradation, regulation of flowering time, and circadian clock were observed to undergo dehydration-induced dephosphorylation. The characterization of novel regulatory proteins would provide new insights into stress adaptation and enable directed genetic manipulations for developing climate-resilient crops.

Keywords: alternative splicing; cellular signalling; dehydration; legume; nuclear phosphoproteome; nuclear proteome; stress tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cicer / metabolism*
  • Cicer / physiology
  • Dehydration
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / physiology
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Proteome / physiology
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Seedlings / physiology


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proteome