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J Plant Physiol. 2009 Aug 15;166(12):1296-306. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2009.02.007. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

Basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor from wild rice (OrbHLH2) improves tolerance to salt- and osmotic stress in Arabidopsis.

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Key Laboratory of Photosynthesis and Environmental Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanxincun 20, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China.


Salt stress adversely affects plant growth and development. Some plants reduce the damage of high-salt stress by expressing a series of salt-responsive genes. Studies of the molecular mechanism of the salt-stress response have focused on the characterization of components involved in signal perception and transduction. In the present work, we cloned and characterized a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) encoding gene, OrbHLH2, from wild rice (Oryza rufipogon), which encodes a homologue protein of ICE1 in Arabidopsis. OrbHLH2 protein localized in the nucleus. Overexpression of OrbHLH2 in Arabidopsis conferred increased tolerance to salt and osmotic stress, and the stress-responsive genes DREB1A/CBF3, RD29A, COR15A and KIN1 were upregulated in transgenic plants. Abscisic acid (ABA) treatment showed a similar effect on the seed germination or transcriptional expression of stress-responsive genes in both wild type and OrbHLH2-overexpressed plants, which implies that OrbHLH2 does not depend on ABA in responding to salt stress. OrbHLH2 may function as a transcription factor and positively regulate salt-stress signals independent of ABA in Arabidopsis, which provides some useful data for improving salt tolerance in crops.

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