Increasing numbers of investigations indicate that ethylene response factor (ERF) proteins play important roles in plant stress responses via interacting with GCC box and/dehydration-responsive element/C-repeat to modulate expression of downstream genes, but the detailed regulatory mechanism is not well elucidated. Revealing the modulation pathway of ERF proteins in response to stresses is vital. Previously, we showed that tomato ERF protein TERF2/LeERF2 is ethylene inducible, and ethylene production is suppressed in antisense TERF2/LeERF2 tomatoes, suggesting that TERF2/LeERF2 functions as a positive regulator in ethylene biosynthesis. In this paper, we report that regulation of TERF2/LeERF2 in ethylene biosynthesis is associated with enhanced freezing tolerance of tobacco and tomato. Analysis of gene expression showed that cold slowly induces expression of TERF2/LeERF2 in tomato, implying that TERF2/LeERF2 may be involved in cold response through ethylene modulation. To test the hypothesis, we first observed that overexpressing TERF2/LeERF2 tobaccos not only enhances freezing tolerance via activating expression of cold-related genes, but also significantly reduces electrolyte leakage. In addition, with treatment of ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor or ethylene receptor antagonist, we then showed that blockage of ethylene biosynthesis or the ethylene signaling pathway decreases freezing tolerance of overexpressing TERF2/LeERF2 tobaccos. Moreover, the results from tomatoes showed that overexpressing TERF2/LeERF2 tomatoes enhances while antisense TERF2/LeERF2 transgenic lines decreases freezing tolerance, and application of ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid restored freezing tolerance of antisense lines. Therefore our results establish that TERF2/LeERF2 enhances freezing tolerance of plants through ethylene biosynthesis and the ethylene signaling pathway.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 5, 2010
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