Fruit trees need to overcome harsh winter climates to ensure perennially; therefore, they are strongly influenced by environmental stress. In the present study, we focused on the pear homolog PcLEA14 belonging to the unique 5C late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) protein group for which information is limited on fruit trees. PcLEA14 was confirmed to belong to this protein group using phylogenetic tree analysis, and its expression was induced by low-temperature stress. The seasonal fluctuation in its expression was considered to be related to its role in enduring overwinter temperatures, which is particularly important in perennially. Moreover, the function of PcLEA14 in low-temperature stress tolerance was revealed in transgenic Arabidopsis. Subsequently, the pear homolog of dehydration-responsive element-binding protein/C-repeat binding factor1 (DREB1), which is an important transcription factor in low-temperature stress tolerance and is uncharacterized in pear, was analyzed after bioinformatics analysis revealed the presence of DREB cis-regulatory elements in PcLEA14 and the dormancy-related gene, both of which are also expressed during low temperatures. Among the five PcDREBs, PcDREB1A and PcDREB1C exhibited similar expression patterns to PcLEA14 whereas the other PcDREBs were not expressed in winter, suggesting their different physiological roles. Our findings suggest that the low-temperature tolerance mechanism in overwintering trees is associated with group 5C LEA proteins and DREB1.
Keywords: DREB; LEA14; Pyrus communis; low-temperature stress; pear.