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Planta. 2004 Dec;220(2):262-70. Epub 2004 Aug 5.

The ethylene-, jasmonate-, abscisic acid- and NaCl-responsive tomato transcription factor JERF1 modulates expression of GCC box-containing genes and salt tolerance in tobacco.

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  • 1The National Plant Gene Research Center (Beijing), Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 100081 Beijing, China.


Ethylene responsive factors (ERFs) are important plant-specific transcription factors, some of which have been demonstrated to interact with the ethylene-responsive GCC box and the dehydration-responsive element (DRE); however, data on the roles of ERF proteins in connection with various signaling pathways are limited. In this research, we used the GCC box, an essential cis-acting element responsive to ethylene and methyl jasmonate (MeJA), as bait in a yeast one-hybrid system to isolate transcription factors from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). One of the cDNAs, which was designated Jasmonate and Ethylene Response Factor 1 (JERF1), encodes an ERF protein, containing a conserved ERF DNA-binding motif and functioning as a transcriptional activator in yeast through targeting to the nucleus in onion (Allium cepa L.) epidermal cells. Biochemical analysis revealed that JERF1 bound not only to the GCC box but also to the DRE sequence. Expression of the JERF1 gene in tomato was induced by ethylene, MeJA, abscisic acid (ABA) and salt treatment, indicating that JERF1 might act as a connector among different signal transduction pathways. Further research with transgenic JERF1 tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) plants indicated that overexpressing JERF1 activated expression of GCC box-containing genes such as osmotin, GLA, Prb-1b and CHN50 under normal growth conditions, and subsequently resulted in enhanced tolerance to salt stress, suggesting that JERF1 modulates osmotic tolerance by activation of downstream gene expression through interaction with the GCC box or DRE.

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