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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Nov 12;93(23):13404-9.

Constitutive expression of the cold-regulated Arabidopsis thaliana COR15a gene affects both chloroplast and protoplast freezing tolerance.

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  • 1Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Cold acclimation in plants is associated with the expression of COR (cold-regulated) genes that encode polypeptides of unknown function. It has been widely speculated that products of these genes might have roles in freezing tolerance. Here we provide direct evidence in support of this hypothesis. We show that constitutive expression of COR15a, a cold-regulated gene of Arabidopsis thaliana that encodes a chloroplast-targeted polypeptide, enhances the in vivo freezing tolerance of chloroplasts in nonacclimated plants by almost 2 degrees C, nearly one-third of the increase that occurs upon cold acclimation of wild-type plants. Significantly, constitutive expression of COR15a also affects the in vitro freezing tolerance of protoplasts. At temperatures between -5 and -8 degrees C, the survival of protoplasts isolated from leaves of nonacclimated transgenic plants expressing COR15a was greater than that of protoplasts isolated from leaves of nonacclimated wild-type plants. At temperatures between -2 and -4 degrees C, constitutive expression of COR15a had a slight negative effect on survival. The implications of these data regarding possible modes of COR15a action are discussed.

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