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Plant Cell Rep. 2015 May;34(5):831-41. doi: 10.1007/s00299-015-1745-5. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

PtrWRKY73, a salicylic acid-inducible poplar WRKY transcription factor, is involved in disease resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Key Laboratory of Eco-environments of Three Gorges Reservoir Region, Ministry of Education, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Transgenic Plant and Safety Control, School of Life Sciences, Institute of Resources Botany, Southwest University, No. 1, Tiansheng Road, Beibei, 400715, Chongqing, China.


A salicylic acid-inducible WRKY gene, PtrWRKY73, from Populus trichocarpa , was isolated and characterized. Overexpression of PtrWRKY73 in Arabidopsis thaliana increased resistance to biotrophic pathogens but reduced resistance against necrotrophic pathogens. WRKY transcription factors are commonly involved in plant defense responses. However, limited information is available about the roles of the WRKY genes in poplar defense. In this study, we isolated a salicylic acid (SA)-inducible WRKY gene, PtrWRKY73, from Populus trichocarpa, belonging to group I family and containing two WRKY domains, a D domain and an SP cluster. PtrWRKY73 was expressed predominantly in roots, old leaves, sprouts and stems, especially in phloem and its expression was induced in response to treatment with exogenous SA. PtrWRKY73 was localized to the nucleus of plant cells and exhibited transcriptional activation. Overexpression of PtrWRKY73 in Arabidopsis thaliana resulted in increased resistance to a virulent strain of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae (PstDC3000), but more sensitivity to the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea. The SA-mediated defense-associated genes, such as PR1, PR2 and PAD4, were markedly up-regulated in transgenic plants overexpressing PtrWRKY73. Arabidopsis non-expressor of PR1 (NPR1) was not affected, whereas a defense-related gene PAL4 had reduced in PtrWRKY73 overexpressor plants. Together, these results indicated that PtrWRKY73 plays a positive role in plant resistance to biotrophic pathogens but a negative effect on resistance against necrotrophic pathogens.

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