, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 387-396

Isolation and characterization of two pathogen- and salicylic acid-induced genes encoding WRKY DNA-binding proteins from tobacco

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Abstract

A pathogen- and salicylic acid (SA)-induced DNA-binding activity has been recently identified in tobacco that is related to a previously identified class of WRKY DNA-binding proteins. To identify members of the WRKY gene family associated with this DNA-binding activity, we have attempted to isolate those WRKY genes that are induced by pathogen infection. Using a domain-specific differential display procedure, we have isolated two tobacco WRKY genes, tWRKY3 and tWRKY4, that are rapidly induced in resistant tobacco plants after infection by tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Both tWRK3 and tWRKY4 encode proteins with a single WRKY domain that contain the conserved WRKYGQK sequence. Unlike other isolated WRKY proteins that contain the Cys2His2 zinc motif, tWRKY3 and tWRKY4 appear to contain the Cys2HisCys zinc motif. Nonetheless, both tWRKY3 and tWRKY4 are capable of binding DNA molecules with the W-box (TTGAC) element recognized by other WRKY proteins. Expression of the tWRKY3 and tWRKY4 genes could be rapidly induced not only by TMV infection but also by SA or its biologically active analogues that are capable of inducing pathogenesis-related genes and enhanced resistance. Interestingly, induction of both genes by TMV infection was still observed in resistant tobacco plants expressing the bacterial salicylate hydroxylase gene (nahG), although the levels of induction appeared to be reduced. Identification of pathogen- and SA-induced genes encoding WRKY DNA-binding proteins should facilitate future studies on the regulation and functions of this novel group of DNA-binding proteins.