Stress-inducible DREB2A transcription factor fromPennisetum glaucumis a phosphoprotein and its phosphorylation negatively regulates its DNA-binding activity

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Abstract

Abiotic stress-mediated gene expression is regulated via different transcription factors of which drought-responsive element-binding (DREB) proteins play an important role. There are two types of DREBs. Presently, the function of DREB1 type protein is well studied; however, much less information is available for DREB2. In this study, a cDNA with an open reading frame of 332 amino acids, encoding the transcription activation factor DREB2A, was cloned from Pennisetum glaucum, a stress tolerant food grain crop. Phylogenetic tree revealed that PgDREB2A is more close to DREBs isolated from monocots, though it forms an independent branch. The PgDREB2A transcript was up-regulated in response to drought within 1 h of the treatment, whereas the induction was delayed in response to cold and salinity stress. However, during cold stress, the transcript was induced more as compared to drought and salinity. The recombinant PgDREB2A protein having a molecular mass of 36.6 kDa was purified using Ni-NTA affinity chromatography. Gel mobility shift assays using the purified protein and two cis elements of rd29A (responsive to dehydration 29A) gene promoter of Arabidopsis revealed that PgDREB2A binds to drought-responsive element (DRE) ACCGAC and not to GCCGAC. PgDREB2A is a phosphoprotein, which has not been reported earlier. The phosphorylation of PgDREB2A in vitro by P. glaucum total cell extract occurred at threonine residue(s). The phosphorylated PgDREB2A did not bind to the DREs. The present data indicate that stress induction of genes could occur via post-translational modification by phosphorylation of DREB2A.

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