The eukaryotic pre-replicative complex (Pre-RC), including heterohexameric minichromosome maintenance (MCM2-7) proteins, ensures that the DNA in genome is replicated only once per cell division cycle. The MCMs provide DNA unwinding function during the DNA replication. Since MCM proteins play essential role in cell division and most likely are affected during stress conditions therefore their overexpression in plants may help in stress tolerance. But the role of MCMs in abiotic stress tolerance in plants has not been reported so far. In this study we report that: a) the MCM6 transcript is upregulated in pea plant in response to high salinity and cold stress and not with ABA, drought and heat stress; b) MCM6 overexpression driven by a constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus-35S promoter in tobacco plants confers salinity tolerance. The T1 transgenics plants were able to grow to maturity and set normal viable seeds under continuous salinity stress, without yield penalty. It was observed that in salt-grown T1 transgenic plants the Na+ ions is mostly accumulated in mature leaves and not in seeds of T1 transgenic lines as compared with the wild-type (WT) plants. T1 transgenic plants exhibited better growth status under salinity stress conditions in comparison to WT plants. Furthermore, the T1 transgenic plants maintained significantly higher levels of leaf chlorophyll content, net photosynthetic rate and therefore higher dry matter accumulation and yield with 200 mM NaCl as compared to the WT plants. Tolerance index data showed better salt tolerance potential of T1 transgenic plants in comparison to WT. These findings provide first direct evidence that overexpression of single subunit MCM6 confers salinity stress tolerance without yield loss. The possible mechanism of salinity tolerance is discussed. These findings suggest that DNA replication machinery can be exploited for promoting stress tolerance in crop plants.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 2, 2011
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