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Plant Cell. 2016 Jan;28(1):160-80. doi: 10.1105/tpc.15.00866. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

Redundant ERF-VII Transcription Factors Bind to an Evolutionarily Conserved cis-Motif to Regulate Hypoxia-Responsive Gene Expression in Arabidopsis.

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Plant Physiology, University Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany.
Center for Plant Cell Biology and Botany and Plant Sciences Department, University of California, Riverside, California 92521.
Plant Physiology, University Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany


The response of Arabidopsis thaliana to low-oxygen stress (hypoxia), such as during shoot submergence or root waterlogging, includes increasing the levels of ∼50 hypoxia-responsive gene transcripts, many of which encode enzymes associated with anaerobic metabolism. Upregulation of over half of these mRNAs involves stabilization of five group VII ethylene response factor (ERF-VII) transcription factors, which are routinely degraded via the N-end rule pathway of proteolysis in an oxygen- and nitric oxide-dependent manner. Despite their importance, neither the quantitative contribution of individual ERF-VIIs nor the cis-regulatory elements they govern are well understood. Here, using single- and double-null mutants, the constitutively synthesized ERF-VIIs RELATED TO APETALA2.2 (RAP2.2) and RAP2.12 are shown to act redundantly as principle activators of hypoxia-responsive genes; constitutively expressed RAP2.3 contributes to this redundancy, whereas the hypoxia-induced HYPOXIA RESPONSIVE ERF1 (HRE1) and HRE2 play minor roles. An evolutionarily conserved 12-bp cis-regulatory motif that binds to and is sufficient for activation by RAP2.2 and RAP2.12 is identified through a comparative phylogenetic motif search, promoter dissection, yeast one-hybrid assays, and chromatin immunopurification. This motif, designated the hypoxia-responsive promoter element, is enriched in promoters of hypoxia-responsive genes in multiple species.

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