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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 11;102(2):509-14. Epub 2005 Jan 3.

Pea DNA helicase 45 overexpression in tobacco confers high salinity tolerance without affecting yield.

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Plant Molecular Biology, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi 110 067, India.


Salt tolerance is an important trait that is required to overcome salinity-induced reduction in plant productivity. We have reported previously the isolation of a pea DNA helicase 45 (PDH45) that exhibits striking homology with the eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF-4A. Here, we report that PDH45 mRNA is induced in pea seedlings in response to high salt, and its overexpression driven by a constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus-(35)S promoter in tobacco plants confers salinity tolerance, thus suggesting a previously undescribed pathway for manipulating stress tolerance in crop plants. The T(0) transgenic plants showed high levels of PDH45 protein in normal and stress conditions, as compared with WT plants. The T(0) transgenics also showed tolerance to high salinity as tested by a leaf disk senescence assay. The T(1) transgenics were able to grow to maturity and set normal viable seeds under continuous salinity stress without any reduction in plant yield in terms of seed weight. Measurement of Na(+) ions in different parts of the plant showed higher accumulation in the old leaves and negligible accumulation in seeds of T(1) transgenic lines as compared with the WT plants. The possible mechanism of salinity tolerance is discussed. Overexpression of PDH45 provides a possible example of the exploitation of DNA/RNA unwinding pathways for engineering salinity tolerance without affecting yield in crop plants.

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