Mockler Lab


Subset of heat-shock transcription factors required for the early response of Arabidopsis to excess light.

Sunlight provides energy for photosynthesis and is essential for nearly all life on earth. However, too much or too little light or rapidly fluctuating light conditions cause stress to plants. Rapid changes in the amount of light are perceived as a change in the reduced/oxidized (redox) state of photosynthetic electron transport components in chloroplasts. However, how this generates a signal that is relayed to changes in nuclear gene expression is not well understood. We modified redox state in the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, using either excess light or low light plus the herbicide DBMIB (2,5-dibromo-3-methyl-6-isopropyl-p-benzoquinone), a well-known inhibitor of photosynthetic electron transport. Modification of redox state caused a change in expression of a common set of about 750 genes, many of which are known stress-responsive genes. Among the most highly enriched promoter elements in the induced gene set were heat-shock elements (HSEs), known motifs that change gene expression in response to high temperature in many systems. We show that HSEs from the promoter of the ASCORBATE PEROXIDASE 2 (APX2) gene were necessary and sufficient for APX2 expression in conditions of excess light, or under low light plus the herbicide. We tested APX2 expression phenotypes in overexpression and loss-of-function mutants of 15 Arabidopsis A-type heat-shock transcription factors (HSFs), and identified HSFA1D, HSFA2, and HSFA3 as key factors regulating APX2 expression in diverse stress conditions. Excess light regulates both the subcellular location of HSFA1D and its biochemical properties, making it a key early component of the excess light stress network of plants.

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