Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 101, Issue 1–2, pp 149–162 | Cite as

MdHIR4 transcription and translation levels associated with disease in apple are regulated by MdWRKY31

  • Xian-Yan Zhao
  • Chen-Hui Qi
  • Han Jiang
  • Ming-Shuang Zhong
  • Chun-Xiang You
  • Yuan-Yuan LiEmail author
  • Yu-Jin HaoEmail author


Key message

Here we describe that the regulation of MdWRKY31 on MdHIR4 in transcription and translation levels associated with disease in apple.


The phytohormone salicylic acid (SA) is a main factor in apple (Malus domestica) production due to its function in disease resistance. WRKY transcription factors play a vital role in response to stress. An RNA-seq analysis was conducted with ‘Royal Gala’ seedlings treated with SA to identify the WRKY regulatory mechanism of disease resistance in apple. The analysis indicated that MdWRKY31 was induced. A quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis demonstrated that the expression of MdWRKY31 was induced by SA and flg22. Ectopic expression of MdWRKY31 in Arabidopsis and Nicotiana benthamiana increased the resistance to flg22 and Pseudomonas syringae tomato (Pst DC3000). A yeast two-hybrid screen was conducted to further analyze the function of MdWRKY31. As a result, hypersensitive-induced reaction (HIR) protein MdHIR4 interacted with MdWRKY31. Biomolecular fluorescence complementation, yeast two-hybrid, and pull-down assays demonstrated the interaction. In our previous study, MdHIR4 conferred decreased resistance to Botryosphaeria dothidea (B. dothidea). A viral vector-based transformation assay indicated that MdWRKY31 evaluated the transcription of SA-related genes, including MdPR1, MdPR5, and MdNPR1 in an MdHIR4-dependent way. A GUS analysis demonstrated that the w-box, particularly w-box2, of the MdHIR4 promoter played a major role in the responses to SA and B. dothidea. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays, yeast one-hybrid assay, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-qPCR demonstrated that MdWRKY31 directly bound to the w-box2 motif in the MdHIR4 promoter. GUS staining activity and a protein intensity analysis further showed that MdWRKY31 repressed MdHIR4 expression. Taken together, our findings reveal that MdWRKY31 regulated plant resistance to B. dothidea through the SA signaling pathway by interacting with MdHIR4.


Malus domestica MdWRKY31 SA Disease resistance Botryosphaeria dothidea 


Author contributions

Y-JH, Y-YL, and X-YZ conceived and designed the experiments. X-YZ performed the research. C-HQ, X-YZ, HJ, M-SZ and C-XY analyzed the data. X-YZ and Y-YL wrote this paper.


This work was supported by grants from the National Key Research and Development Program (2018YFD1000200), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31772275, U1706202), the Natural Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars of Shandong Province (ZR2018JL014).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11103_2019_898_MOESM1_ESM.doc (309 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 309 kb)
11103_2019_898_MOESM2_ESM.doc (214 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 214 kb)
11103_2019_898_MOESM3_ESM.doc (798 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 798 kb)
11103_2019_898_MOESM4_ESM.xls (354 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (XLS 353 kb) Table 1 The RNA-seq analysis treated with SA.
11103_2019_898_MOESM5_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (DOCX 14 kb)
11103_2019_898_MOESM6_ESM.doc (80 kb)
Supplementary material 6 (DOC 80 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas/Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Apple, College of HorticultureNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.National Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, Shandong Collaborative Innovation Center of Fruit & Vegetable Quality and Efficient Production, College of Horticulture Science and EngineeringShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anChina

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