PloS one

The ethylene response factor AtERF4 negatively regulates the iron deficiency response in Arabidopsis thaliana.

PMID 29045490


Iron (Fe) deficiency is one of many conditions that can seriously damage crops. Low levels of photosynthesis can lead to the degradation of chlorophyll content and impaired respiration in affected plants, which together cause poor growth and reduce quality. Although ethylene plays an important role in responses to Fe deficiency, a limited number of studies have been carried out on ethylene response factor (ERFs) as components of plant regulation mechanisms. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the role of AtERF4 in plant responses to Fe deficiency. Results collected when Arabidopsis thaliana was grown under Fe deficient conditions as well as in the presence of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) revealed that leaf chlorosis did not occur over short timescales and that chloroplast structural integrity was retained. At the same time, expression of the chlorophyll degradation-related genes AtPAO and AtCLH1 was inhibited and net H+ root flux was amplified. Our results show that chlorophyll content was enhanced in the mutant erf4, while expression of the chlorophyll degradation gene AtCLH1 was reduced. Ferric reductase activity in roots was also significantly higher in the mutant than in wild type plants, while erf4 caused high levels of expression of the genes AtIRT1 and AtHA2 under Fe deficient conditions. We also utilized yeast one-hybrid technology in this study to determine that AtERF4 binds directly to the AtCLH1 and AtITR1 promoter. Observations show that transient over-expression of AtERF4 resulted in rapid chlorophyll degradation in the leaves of Nicotiana tabacum and the up-regulation of gene AtCLH1 expression. In summary, AtERF4 plays an important role as a negative regulator of Fe deficiency responses, we hypothesize that AtERF4 may exert a balancing effect on plants subject to nutrition stress.