Biologia Plantarum

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 601–617 | Cite as

The role of dehydrins in plant response to cold

  • K. KosováEmail author
  • P. Vítámvás
  • I. T. Prášil


Dehydrins present a distinct biochemical group of late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins characterised by the presence of a lysine-rich amino acid motif, the K-segment. They are highly hydrophilic, soluble upon boiling, and rich in glycine and polar amino acids. It is proposed that they can act as emulsifiers or chaperones in the cells, i.e., they protect proteins and membranes against unfavourable structural changes caused by dehydration. Cold usually precedes freezing in nature and induces many physiological and biochemical changes in the cells of freezing-tolerant plant species (cold-acclimation) that enable them to survive unfavourable conditions. It is demonstrated that the induction of dehydrin expression and their accumulation is an important part of this process in many dicotyledons (both herbaceous and woody species), and also in winter cultivars of cereals, especially wheat and barley. Some mechanisms which are proposed to be involved in regulation of dehydrin expression are discussed, i.e., endogenous content of abscisic acid, homologues of Arabidopsis C-repeat binding factor (CBF) transcriptional activators, the activity of vernalization genes and photoperiodic signals. Finally, we outline some new approaches emerging for the solution of the complex mechanisms involved in plant cold-acclimation, especially the methods of functional genomics that enable to observe simultaneously changes in the activity of many genes and proteins in a single sample.

Additional key words

abscisic acid cereals cold-acclimation dicotyledons frost resistance K-segment LEA D-11 proteins low temperature stress 



abscisic acid


ABA-responsive element


basic-domain leucine zipper


cauliflower mosaic virus




C-repeat-binding factor








dehydration-responsive element


early light-inducible proteins


early response to drought


expressed sequence tag

Fr gene

frost resistance gene


frost tolerance




late embryogenesis abundant


long day


lactate dehydrogenase


low temperature


lethal temperature when 50 % samples die


low temperature-induced


low temperature-responsive element


relative molecular mass


nuclear localisation sequence


50 % protein denaturation


isoelectric point




quantitative trait loci


response to ABA


reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction


short day


sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


ultra-violet circular dichroism




wheat cold-regulated


wheat cold-specific


wheat dehydrin


wild type


two dimensional electrophoresis


two dimensional difference gel electrophoresis


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Copyright information

© Institute of Experimental Botany, ASCR 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute of Crop ProductionPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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