Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 387–396 | Cite as

Molecular cloning and functional analysis of the drought tolerance gene MsHSP70 from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)

  • Zhenyi Li
  • Ruicai Long
  • Tiejun Zhang
  • Zhen Wang
  • Fan Zhang
  • Qingchuan Yang
  • Junmei Kang
  • Yan Sun
Regular Paper


Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a ubiquitously expressed class of protective proteins that play a key role in plant response to stressful conditions. This study aimed to characterize and investigate the function of an HSP gene in alfalfa (Medicago sativa). MsHSP70, which contains a 2028-bp open reading frame, was identified through homology cloning. MsHSP70 shares high sequence identity (94.47%) with HSP70 from Medicago truncatula. Expression analysis of MsHSP70 in alfalfa organs revealed a relatively higher expression level in aerial organs such as flowers, stems and leaves than in roots. MsHSP70 was induced by heat shock, abscisic acid (ABA) and hydrogen peroxide. Transgenic Arabidopsis seedlings overexpressing MsHSP70 were hyposensitive to polyethylene glycol (PEG) and ABA treatments, suggesting that exogenous expression of MsHSP70 enhanced Arabidopsis tolerance to these stresses. Examination of physiological indexes related to drought and ABA stress demonstrated that in comparison with non-transgenic plants, T3 transgenic Arabidopsis plants had an increased proline content, higher superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) content. Furthermore, higher relative water content (RWC) was detected in transgenic plants compared with non-transgenic plants under drought stress. These findings clearly indicate that molecular manipulation of MsHSP70 in plants can have substantial effects on stress tolerance.


Heat shock protein Medicago sativa Stress response Transgenic Arabidopsis 



Heat shock protein


Abscisic acid


Superoxide dismutase




Relative water content


Open reading frame




Green fluorescent protein


Polyethylene glycol


Quantitative real-time PCR



This work was supported by the National Program on Key Basic Research Project (Grant Number: 2014CB138703-2), the China Agriculture Research System (Grant Number: CARS-35-04) and The Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (Grant Number: ASTIP-IAS14).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10265_2017_905_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (8.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 8823 KB)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhenyi Li
    • 1
  • Ruicai Long
    • 1
  • Tiejun Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhen Wang
    • 1
  • Fan Zhang
    • 1
  • Qingchuan Yang
    • 1
  • Junmei Kang
    • 1
  • Yan Sun
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Animal SciencesChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Animal Science and TechnologyChina Agriculture UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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