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Plant Physiol. 2016 Oct;172(2):1182-1199. Epub 2016 Aug 4.

The Heat Stress Factor HSFA6b Connects ABA Signaling and ABA-Mediated Heat Responses.

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Institute of Plant Biology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan.
Institute of Plant Biology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan


Heat stress response (HSR) is a conserved mechanism developed to increase the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) via a heat shock factor (HSF)-dependent mechanism. Signaling by the stress phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) is involved in acquired thermotolerance as well. Analysis of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) microarray databases revealed that the expression of HSFA6b, a class A HSF, extensively increased with salinity, osmotic, and cold stresses, but not heat. Here, we show that HSFA6b plays a pivotal role in the response to ABA and in thermotolerance. Salt-inducible HSFA6b expression was down-regulated in ABA-insensitive and -deficient mutants; however, exogenous ABA application restored expression in ABA-deficient, but not -insensitive plants. Thus, ABA signaling is required for proper HSFA6b expression. A transcriptional activation assay of protoplasts revealed that ABA treatment and coexpression of an ABA signaling master effector, ABA-RESPONSIVE ELEMENT-BINDING PROTEIN1, could activate the HSFA6b promoter. In addition, HSFA6b directly bound to the promoter of DEHYDRATION-RESPONSIVE ELEMENT-BINDING PROTEIN2A and enhanced its expression. Analysis of ABA responses in seed germination, cotyledon greening, and root growth as well as salt and drought tolerance in HSFA6b-null, overexpression, and dominant negative mutants revealed that HSFA6b is a positive regulator participating in ABA-mediated salt and drought resistance. Thermoprotection tests showed that HSFA6b was required for thermotolerance acquisition. Our study reveals a network in which HSFA6b operates as a downstream regulator of the ABA-mediated stress response and is required for heat stress resistance. This new ABA-signaling pathway is integrated into the complex HSR network in planta.

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