A pervasive phosphorylation cascade modulation of plant transcription factors in response to abiotic stress

Planta. 2023 Sep 5;258(4):73. doi: 10.1007/s00425-023-04232-x.


Transcriptional regulation of stress-responsive genes is a crucial step in establishing the mechanisms behind plant abiotic stress tolerance. A sensitive method of regulating transcription factors activity, stability, protein interaction, and subcellular localization is through phosphorylation. This review highlights a widespread regulation mechanism that involves phosphorylation of plant TFs in response to abiotic stress. Abiotic stress is one of the main components limiting crop yield and sustainability on a global scale. It greatly reduces the land area that is planted and lowers crop production globally. In all living organisms, transcription factors (TFs) play a crucial role in regulating gene expression. They participate in cell signaling, cell cycle, development, and plant stress response. Plant resilience to diverse abiotic stressors is largely influenced by TFs. Transcription factors modulate gene expression by binding to their target gene's cis-elements, which are impacted by genomic characteristics, DNA structure, and TF interconnections. In this review, we focus on the six major TFs implicated in abiotic stress tolerance, namely, DREB, bZIP, WRKY, ABF, MYB, and NAC, and the cruciality of phosphorylation of these transcription factors in abiotic stress signaling, as protein phosphorylation has emerged as one of the key post-translational modifications, playing a critical role in cell signaling, DNA amplification, gene expression and differentiation, and modification of other biological configurations. These TFs have been discovered after extensive study as stress-responsive transcription factors which may be major targets for crop development and important contributors to stress tolerance and crop production.

Keywords: Abiotic; Kinases; Phosphorylation; Protein; Transcription factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Transcription Factors* / genetics


  • Transcription Factors