, Volume 65, Issue 6, pp 733-746
Date: 20 Sep 2007

Overexpression of a putative maize calcineurin B-like protein in Arabidopsis confers salt tolerance

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Abstract

The calcineurin B-like proteins (CBLs) represent a unique family of calcium sensors in plants. Although extensive studies and remarkable progress have been made in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) CBLs, their functions in other plant species are still quite limited. Here, we report the cloning and functional characterization of ZmCBL4, a novel CBL gene from maize (Zea mays). ZmCBL4 encodes a putative homolog of the Arabidopsis CBL4/SOS3 protein, with novel properties. ZmCBL4 has one copy in maize genome and harbors seven introns in its coding region. ZmCBL4 expressed differentially in various organs of the maize plants at a low level under normal condition, and its expression was regulated by NaCl, LiCl, ABA and PEG treatments. Expression of 35S::ZmCBL4 not only complemented the salt hypersensitivity in Arabidopsis sos3 mutant, but also enhanced the salt tolerance in Arabidopsis wild type at the germination and seedling stages. Moreover, the LiCl tolerance in all of the ZmCBL4-expressing lines increased more significantly as compared with the NaCl tolerance, and in consistent with this, it was found that the expression of Arabidopsis AtNHX8, a putative plasma membrane Li+/H+ antiporter gene identified recently, was induced in these transgenic lines under LiCl stress. The ZmCBL4-expressing Arabidopsis lines accumulated less Na+ and Li+ as compared with the control plants. This study has identified a putative maize CBL gene which functions in the salt stress-elicited calcium signaling and thus in the tolerance to salinity.

Database accession number: EF405963.