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WRKY transcription factors and plant defense responses: latest discoveries and future prospects

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Abstract

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WRKY transcription factors are among the largest families of transcriptional regulators. In this review, their pivotal role in modulating various signal transduction pathways during biotic and abiotic stresses is discussed.

Abstract

Transcription factors (TFs) are important constituents of plant signaling pathways that define plant responses against biotic and abiotic stimuli besides playing a role in response to internal signals which coordinate different interacting partners during developmental processes. WRKY TFs, deriving their nomenclature from their signature DNA-binding sequence, represent one of the largest families of transcriptional regulators found exclusively in plants. By modulating different signal transduction pathways, these TFs contribute to various plant processes including nutrient deprivation, embryogenesis, seed and trichome development, senescence as well as other developmental and hormone-regulated processes. A growing body of research suggests transcriptional regulation of WRKY TFs in adapting plant to a variety of stressed environments. WRKY TFs can regulate diverse biological functions from receptors for pathogen triggered immunity, modulator of chromatin for specific interaction and signal transfer through a complicated network of genes. Latest discoveries illustrate the interaction of WRKY proteins with other TFs to form an integral part of signaling webs that regulate several seemingly disparate processes and defense-related genes, thus establishing their significant contributions to plant immune response. The present review starts with a brief description on the structural characteristics of WRKY TFs followed by the sections that present recent evidence on their roles in diverse biological processes in plants. We provide a comprehensive overview on regulatory crosstalks involving WRKY TFs during multiple stress responses in plants and future prospects of WRKY TFs as promising molecular diagnostics for enhancing crop improvement.

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Acknowledgements

RJ acknowledge the financial support from project GAP0254 and MLP0201 for this study

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SHW conceived the idea. SHW, SA, BS, AB and RJ wrote the manuscript. RJ and AB revised and finalized the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Wani, S.H., Anand, S., Singh, B. et al. WRKY transcription factors and plant defense responses: latest discoveries and future prospects. Plant Cell Rep 40, 1071–1085 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00299-021-02691-8

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