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PloS one

Poplar GTL1 is a Ca2+/calmodulin-binding transcription factor that functions in plant water use efficiency and drought tolerance.


PMID 22396800

Abstract

Diminishing global fresh water availability has focused research to elucidate mechanisms of water use in poplar, an economically important species. A GT-2 family trihelix transcription factor that is a determinant of water use efficiency (WUE), PtaGTL1 (GT-2 like 1), was identified in Populus tremula × P. alba (clone 717-IB4). Like other GT-2 family members, PtaGTL1 contains both N- and C-terminal trihelix DNA binding domains. PtaGTL1 expression, driven by the Arabidopsis thaliana AtGTL1 promoter, suppressed the higher WUE and drought tolerance phenotypes of an Arabidopsis GTL1 loss-of-function mutation (gtl1-4). Genetic suppression of gtl1-4 was associated with increased stomatal density due to repression of Arabidopsis STOMATAL DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION1 (AtSDD1), a negative regulator of stomatal development. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) indicated that a PtaGTL1 C-terminal DNA trihelix binding fragment (PtaGTL1-C) interacted with an AtSDD1 promoter fragment containing the GT3 box (GGTAAA), and this GT3 box was necessary for binding. PtaGTL1-C also interacted with a PtaSDD1 promoter fragment via the GT2 box (GGTAAT). PtaSDD1 encodes a protein with 60% primary sequence identity with AtSDD1. In vitro molecular interaction assays were used to determine that Ca(2+)-loaded calmodulin (CaM) binds to PtaGTL1-C, which was predicted to have a CaM-interaction domain in the first helix of the C-terminal trihelix DNA binding domain. These results indicate that, in Arabidopsis and poplar, GTL1 and SDD1 are fundamental components of stomatal lineage. In addition, PtaGTL1 is a Ca(2+)-CaM binding protein, which infers a mechanism by which environmental stimuli can induce Ca(2+) signatures that would modulate stomatal development and regulate plant water use.