, Volume 258, Issue 3, pp 269-278

HSF3, a new heat shock factor from Arabidopsis thaliana, derepresses the heat shock response and confers thermotolerance when overexpressed in transgenic plants

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Abstract

Organisms synthesize heat shock proteins (HSPs) in response to sublethal heat stress and concomitantly acquire increased tolerance against a subsequent, otherwise lethal, heat shock. Heat shock factor (HSF) is essential for the transcription of many HSP genes. We report the isolation of two HSF genes, HSF3 and HSF4, from an Arabidopsis cDNA library. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants were generated containing constructs that allow expression of HSF3 and HSF4 or the respective translational β-glucuronidase (GUS) fusions. Overexpression of HSF3 or HSF3-GUS, but not of HSF4 or HSF4-GUS, causes HSP synthesis at the non-heat-shock temperature of 25° C in transgenic Arabidopsis. In transgenic plants bearing HSF3/HSF3-GUS, transcription of several heat shock genes is derepressed. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays suggest that derepression of the heat shock response is mediated by HSF3/HSF3-GUS functioning as transcription factor. HSF3/HSF3-GUS-overexpressing Arabidopsis plants show an increase in basal thermotolerance, indicating the importance of HSFs and HSF-regulated genes as determinants of thermoprotective processes. Plants transgenic for HSF3/HSF3-GUS exhibit no other obvious phenotypic alterations. Derepression of HSF activity upon overexpression suggests the titration of a negative regulator of HSF3 or an intrinsic constitutive activity of HSF3. We assume that stable overexpression of HSFs may be applied to other organisms as a means of derepressing the heat shock response.

Received: 6 October 1997 / Accepted: 30 December 1997