The ethylene, jasmonic acid and osmotic signaling pathways respond to environmental stimuli and in order to understand how plants adapt to biotic and abiotic stresses it is important to understand how these pathways interact each other. In this paper, we report a novel ERF protein--jasmonate and ethylene-responsive factor 3 (JERF3)--that unites these pathways. JERF3, which functions as an in vivo transcription activator in yeast, binds to the GCC box, an element responsive to ethylene/JA signaling, as well as to DRE, a dehydration-responsive element that responds to dehydration, high salt and low-temperature. Expression of JERF3 in tomato is mainly induced by ethylene, JA, cold, salt or ABA. Constitutive expression of JERF3 in transgenic tobacco significantly activated expression of pathogenesis-related genes that contained the GCC box, resulting in enhanced tolerance to salt. These results indicate that JERF3 functions as a linker in ethylene- and osmotic stress-signaling pathways.
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