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Plant Physiol. 2008 Feb;146(2):623-35. Epub 2007 Dec 27.

Overexpression of AtMYB44 enhances stomatal closure to confer abiotic stress tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis.

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Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-921, Korea.


AtMYB44 belongs to the R2R3 MYB subgroup 22 transcription factor family in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Treatment with abscisic acid (ABA) induced AtMYB44 transcript accumulation within 30 min. The gene was also activated under various abiotic stresses, such as dehydration, low temperature, and salinity. In transgenic Arabidopsis carrying an AtMYB44 promoter-driven beta-glucuronidase (GUS) construct, strong GUS activity was observed in the vasculature and leaf epidermal guard cells. Transgenic Arabidopsis overexpressing AtMYB44 is more sensitive to ABA and has a more rapid ABA-induced stomatal closure response than wild-type and atmyb44 knockout plants. Transgenic plants exhibited a reduced rate of water loss, as measured by the fresh-weight loss of detached shoots, and remarkably enhanced tolerance to drought and salt stress compared to wild-type plants. Microarray analysis and northern blots revealed that salt-induced activation of the genes that encode a group of serine/threonine protein phosphatases 2C (PP2Cs), such as ABI1, ABI2, AtPP2CA, HAB1, and HAB2, was diminished in transgenic plants overexpressing AtMYB44. By contrast, the atmyb44 knockout mutant line exhibited enhanced salt-induced expression of PP2C-encoding genes and reduced drought/salt stress tolerance compared to wild-type plants. Therefore, enhanced abiotic stress tolerance of transgenic Arabidopsis overexpressing AtMYB44 was conferred by reduced expression of genes encoding PP2Cs, which have been described as negative regulators of ABA signaling.

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