Plant Physiology | 2019
PuHSFA4a Enhances Tolerance To Excess Zinc by Regulating Reactive Oxygen Species Production and Root Development in Populus1[OPEN]
PuHSFA4a, which activates the antioxidant program and root development-related genes, directly targets PuGSTU17 and PuPLA2, positively regulating excess Zn tolerance in Populus ussuriensis roots. Zinc (Zn) is an essential micronutrient but in excess is highly toxic to plants. Plants regulate Zn homeostasis and withstand excess Zn through various pathways; these pathways are generally tightly regulated by a specific set of genes. However, the transcription factors involved in excess Zn tolerance have yet to be identified. Here, we characterized a Populus ussuriensis heat shock transcription factor A4a (PuHSFA4a) that acts as a positive regulator of excess Zn tolerance in P. ussuriensis. We used overexpression (PuHSFA4a-OE) and chimeric dominant repressor (PuHSFA4a-SRDX) lines to identify the targets of PuHSFA4a. PuHSFA4a transcription is specifically induced in roots by high Zn. Overexpression of PuHSFA4a conferred excess Zn tolerance and a dominant repressor version of PuHSFA4a increased excess Zn sensitivity in P. ussuriensis by regulating the antioxidant system in roots. PuHSFA4a coordinately activates genes related to abiotic stress responses and root development and directly binds to the promoter regions of glutathione-s-transferase U17 (PuGSTU17) and phospholipase A2 (PuPLA2). PuGSTU17 overexpression significantly increased GST activity and reduced reactive oxygen species levels in roots while PuGSTU17-RNA interference lines exhibited the opposite phenotype. Furthermore, PuPLA2 overexpression promoted root growth under high Zn stress. Taken together, we provide evidence that PuHSFA4a coordinately activates the antioxidant system and root development-related genes and directly targets PuGSTU17 and PuPLA, thereby promoting excess Zn tolerance in P. ussuriensis roots.