Proline accumulation is regulated by transcription factors associated with phosphate starvation

Dávid Aleksza, Gábor V. Horváth, Györgyi Sándor, L. Szabados

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Pro accumulation in plants is a well-documented physiological response to osmotic stress caused by drought or salinity. In Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the stress and ABA-induced ∆1-PYRROLINE-5-CARBOXYLATE SYNTHETASE1 (P5CS1) gene was previously shown to control Pro biosynthesis in such adverse conditions. To identify regulatory factors that control the transcription of P5CS1, Y1H screens were performed with a genomic fragment of P5CS1, containing 1.2-kB promoter and 0.8-kb transcribed regions. The myeloblastosis (MYB)-type transcription factors PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE1 (PHR1) and PHR1-LIKE1 (PHL1) were identified to bind to P5CS1 regulatory sequences in the first intron, which carries a conserved PHR1-binding site (P1BS) motif. Binding of PHR1 and PHL1 factors to P1BS was confirmed by Y1H, electrophoretic mobility assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation. Phosphate starvation led to gradual increase in Pro content in wild-type Arabidopsis plants as well as transcriptional activation of P5CS1 and PRO DEHYDROGENASE2 genes. Induction of P5CS1 transcription and Pro accumulation during phosphate deficiency was considerably reduced by phr1 and phl1 mutations and was impaired in the ABA-deficient aba2-3 and ABA-insensitive abi4-1 mutants. Growth and viability of phr1phl1 double mutant was significantly reduced in phosphate-depleted medium, while growth was only marginally affected in the aba2-3 mutants, suggesting that ABA is implicated in growth retardation in such nutritional stress. Our results reveal a previously unknown link between Pro metabolism and phosphate nutrition and show that Pro biosynthesis is target of cross talk between ABA signaling and regulation of phosphate homeostasis through PHR1- and PHL1-mediated transcriptional activation of the P5CS1 gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-567
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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