Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 455–464 | Cite as

Characterization of Small Heat Shock Proteins Associated with Maize Tolerance to Combined Drought and Heat Stress

  • Xiuli Hu
  • Yanhui Li
  • Chaohai Li
  • Hairong Yang
  • Wei Wang
  • Minghui Lu


To investigate how the mechanisms of small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) in regulating maize leaves respond to the combination of drought and heat stress, leaf protein patterns were monitored using a proteomic approach in maize plants exposed to combined drought and heat stress. Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) was used to identify combined drought- and heat-responsive protein spots in maize leaves. After Coomassie brilliant blue staining, approximately 450 protein spots were reproducibly detected on each gel, wherein 7 protein spots were expressed only under heat and combined drought and heat stress but were almost undetected under control and drought. Using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, a total of seven proteins were identified, including cytochrome b6-f complex iron-sulfur subunit, sHSP17.4, sHSP17.2, sHSP26, guanine nucleotide-binding protein β-subunit-like protein, putative uncharacterized protein, and granule-bound starch synthase IIa. Moreover, the gene expression of three sHSPs was analyzed at the transcriptional level and indicated that all three sHSPs were expressed under several treatments although their expression levels were obviously more enhanced by heat and combined drought and heat stress than by control and drought. In investigations of the effect of abscisic acid (ABA) on the three sHSPs, pretreatment with 100 μM ABA enhanced substantially the expression of the three sHSPs at the protein level, but only slightly at the mRNA level. These results show that transcription levels are not completely concomitant with translation and suggest that ABA induces the post-transcriptional regulation of sHSP17.2, sHSP17.4, and sHSP26 expression, which can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms of plant response to the combination of drought and heat stress.


ABA Combined drought and heat stress sHSP17.2 sHSP17.4 sHSP26 Zea mays



Abscisic acid


Coomassie brilliant blue


Cytosolic ascorbate peroxidase




Isoelectric focusing


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight


Mass spectrometry


Phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride






Isoelectric point


Small heat shock protein




Two-dimensional electrophoresis


Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Trichloroacetic acid


Trifluoroacetic acid



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant No. 30800667 to X. L. Hu), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant Nos. 20080440824 and 200902357 to X. L. Hu), the Natural Science Foundation of Henan Educational Committee (grant No. 2008A180011 to X. L. Hu), the Foundation for University Key Teacher by the Ministry of Education (grant No. 2009GGJS-028 to X. L. Hu), and the Foundation of Henan Major Public Projects (grant No. 091100910100).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiuli Hu
    • 1
  • Yanhui Li
    • 1
  • Chaohai Li
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hairong Yang
    • 1
  • Wei Wang
    • 1
  • Minghui Lu
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Life ScienceHenan Agricultural UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.College of AgronomyHenan Agricultural UniversityZhengzhouChina
  3. 3.Huanghuaihai Regional Innovation Center for Maize Technology, Ministry of AgricultureZhengzhouChina

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