Pre-exposing (priming) plants to mild, non-lethal elevated temperature improves their tolerance to a later higher-temperature stress (triggering stimulus), which is of great ecological importance. 'Thermomemory' is maintaining this tolerance for an extended period of time. NAM/ATAF1/2/CUC2 (NAC) proteins are plant-specific transcription factors (TFs) that modulate responses to abiotic stresses, including heat stress (HS). Here, we investigated the potential role of NACs for thermomemory. We determined the expression of 104 Arabidopsis NAC genes after priming and triggering heat stimuli, and found ATAF1 expression is strongly induced right after priming and declines below control levels thereafter during thermorecovery. Knockout mutants of ATAF1 show better thermomemory than wild type, revealing a negative regulatory role. Differential expression analyses of RNA-seq data from ATAF1 overexpressor, ataf1 mutant and wild-type plants after heat priming revealed five genes that might be priming-associated direct targets of ATAF1: AT2G31260 (ATG9), AT2G41640 (GT61), AT3G44990 (XTH31), AT4G27720 and AT3G23540. Based on co-expression analyses applied to the aforementioned RNA-seq profiles, we identified ANAC055 to be transcriptionally co-regulated with ATAF1. Like ataf1, anac055 mutants show improved thermomemory, revealing a potential co-control of both NAC TFs over thermomemory. Our data reveals a core importance of two NAC transcription factors, ATAF1 and ANAC055, for thermomemory.
© 2022. The Author(s).