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J Exp Bot. 2013 Mar;64(5):1367-79. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers400. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Manipulation of arginase expression modulates abiotic stress tolerance in Arabidopsis: effect on arginine metabolism and ROS accumulation.

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Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China.


Arginine is an important medium for the transport and storage of nitrogen, and arginase (also known as arginine amidohydrolase, ARGAH) is responsible for catalyse of arginine into ornithine and urea in plants. In this study, the impact of AtARGAHs on abiotic stress response was investigated by manipulating AtARGAHs expression. In the knockout mutants of AtARGAHs, enhanced tolerances were observed to multiple abiotic stresses including water deficit, salt, and freezing stresses, while AtARGAH1- and AtARGAH2-overexpressing lines exhibited reduced abiotic stress tolerances compared to the wild type. Consistently, the enhanced tolerances were confirmed by the changes of physiological parameters including electrolyte leakage, water loss rate, stomatal aperture, and survival rate. Interestingly, the direct downstream products of arginine catabolism including polyamines and nitric oxide (NO) concentrations significantly increased in the AtARGAHs-knockout lines, but decreased in overexpressing lines under control conditions. Additionally, the AtARGAHs-overexpressing and -knockout lines displayed significantly reduced relative arginine (% of total free amino acids) relative to the wild type. Similarly, reactive oxygen species accumulation was remarkably regulated by AtARGAHs under abiotic stress conditions, as shown from hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide radical ( ) concentrations, and antioxidant enzyme activities. Taken together, this is the first report, as far as is known, to provide evidence that AtARGAHs negatively regulate many abiotic stress tolerances, at least partially, attribute to their roles in modulating arginine metabolism and reactive oxygen species accumulation. Biotechnological strategy based on manipulation of AtARGAHs expression will be valuable for future crop breeding.

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