ABF2, ABF3, and ABF4 Promote ABA-Mediated Chlorophyll Degradation and Leaf Senescence by Transcriptional Activation of Chlorophyll Catabolic Genes and Senescence-Associated Genes in Arabidopsis

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Abstract

Chlorophyll (Chl) degradation is an integral process of leaf senescence, and NYE1/SGR1 has been demonstrated as a key regulator of Chl catabolism in diverse plant species. In this study, using yeast one-hybrid screening, we identified three abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive element (ABRE)-binding transcription factors, ABF2 (AREB1), ABF3, and ABF4 (AREB2), as the putative binding proteins of the NYE1 promoter. Through the transactivation analysis, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and chromatin immunoprecipitation, we demonstrated that ABF2, ABF3, and ABF4 directly bound to and activated the NYE1 promoter in vitro and in vivo. ABA is a positive regulator of leaf senescence, and exogenously applied ABA can accelerate Chl degradation. The triple mutant of the ABFs, abf2abf3abf4, as well as two ABA-insensitive mutants, abi1-1 and snrk2.2/2.3/2.6, exhibited stay-green phenotypes after ABA treatment, along with decreased induction of NYE1 and NYE2 expression. In contrast, overexpression of ABF4 accelerated Chl degradation upon ABA treatment. Interestingly, ABF2/3/4 could also activate the expression of two Chl catabolic enzyme genes, PAO and NYC1, by directly binding to their promoters. In addition, abf2abf3abf4 exhibited a functional stay-green phenotype, and senescence-associated genes (SAGs), such as SAG29 (SWEET15), might be directly regulated by the ABFs. Taken together, our results suggest that ABF2, ABF3, and ABF4 likely act as key regulators in mediating ABA-triggered Chl degradation and leaf senescence in general in Arabidopsis.

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Gao, S., Gao, J., Zhu, X., Song, Y., Li, Z., Ren, G., … Kuai, B. (2016). ABF2, ABF3, and ABF4 Promote ABA-Mediated Chlorophyll Degradation and Leaf Senescence by Transcriptional Activation of Chlorophyll Catabolic Genes and Senescence-Associated Genes in Arabidopsis. Molecular Plant, 9(9), 1272–1285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2016.06.006

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