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Plant Cell Environ. 2013 May;36(5):1037-55. doi: 10.1111/pce.12040. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Overexpression of the phosphatidylinositol synthase gene (ZmPIS) conferring drought stress tolerance by altering membrane lipid composition and increasing ABA synthesis in maize.

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  • 1School of Life Science, Shandong University, 27 Shanda South Road, Jinan 250100, China.


Phosphatidylinositol (PtdIns) synthase is a key enzyme in the phospholipid pathway and catalyses the formation of PtdIns. PtdIns is not only a structural component of cell membranes, but also the precursor of the phospholipid signal molecules that regulate plant response to environment stresses. Here, we obtained transgenic maize constitutively overexpressing or underexpressing PIS from maize (ZmPIS) under the control of a maize ubiquitin promoter. Transgenic plants were confirmed by PCR, Southern blotting analysis and real-time RT-PCR assay. The electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS)-based lipid profiling analysis showed that, under drought stress conditions, the overexpression of ZmPIS in maize resulted in significantly elevated levels of most phospholipids and galactolipids in leaves compared with those in wild type (WT). At the same time, the expression of some genes involved in the phospholipid metabolism pathway and the abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis pathway including ZmPLC, ZmPLD, ZmDGK1, ZmDGK3, ZmPIP5K9, ZmABA1, ZmNCED, ZmAAO1, ZmAAO2 and ZmSCA1 was markedly up-regulated in the overexpression lines after drought stress. Consistent with these results, the drought stress tolerance of the ZmPIS sense transgenic plants was enhanced significantly at the pre-flowering stages compared with WT maize plants. These results imply that ZmPIS regulates the plant response to drought stress through altering membrane lipid composition and increasing ABA synthesis in maize.

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