VIP1 response elements mediate mitogen-activated protein kinase 3-induced stress gene expression

Andrea Pitzschke, Armin Djamei, Markus Teige, Heribert Hirt

The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens transforms plant cells by delivering its T-DNA into the plant cell nucleus where it integrates into the plant genome and causes tumor formation. A key role of VirE2-interacting protein 1 (VIP1) in the nuclear import of T-DNA during Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation has been unravelled and VIP1 was shown to undergo nuclear localization upon phosphorylation by the mitogen-activated protein kinase MPK3. Here, we provide evidence that VIP1 encodes a functional bZIP transcription factor that stimulates stress-dependent gene expression by binding to VIP1 response elements (VREs), a DNA hexamer motif. VREs are overrepresented in promoters responding to activation of the MPK3 pathway such as Trxh8 and MYB44. Accordingly, plants overexpressing VIP1 accumulate high levels of Trxh8 and MYB44 transcripts, whereas stress-induced expression of these genes is impaired in mpk3 mutants. Trxh8 and MYB44 promoters are activated by VIP1 in a VRE-dependent manner. VIP1 strongly enhances expression from a synthetic promoter harboring multiple VRE copies and directly interacts with VREs in vitro and in vivo. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays of the MYB44 promoter confirm that VIP1 binding to VREs is enhanced under conditions of MPK3 pathway stimulation. These results provide molecular insight into the cellular mechanism of target gene regulation by the MPK3 pathway.

Department of Microbiology, Immunobiology and Genetics, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
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Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106023 Molecular biology
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