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Chloroplast division is a critical process for the maintenance of appropriate chloroplast number in plant cells. It is known that in some plant species and cell types, environmental stresses can affect chloroplast division, differentiation and morphology, however the significance and regulation of these processes are largely unknown. Here we investigated the regulation of salt stress-induced chloroplast division in protonemal cells of the moss, Physcomitrella patens, and found that, salt stress as one of the major abiotic stresses, induced chloroplast division and resulted in increased chloroplast numbers. We further identified three APETALA2/ETHYLENE RESPONSIVE FACTOR (AP2/ERF) transcription factors (TFs) that were responsible for this regulation. These AP2/ERF genes were up-regulated under salt stress, and amino acid sequences and phylogenetic analyses indicated that all TFs possess only one conserved AP2 domain and likely belong to the same subgroup of ERF-B3 in the AP2/ERF superfamily. Overexpression of these TFs significantly increased the chloroplast number even in the absence of NaCl stress. On the contrary, inducible overexpression of the dominant repressor form of these TFs suppressed salt stress-induced chloroplast division. Thus, our results suggest that salt stress induced-chloroplast division is regulated through members of the AP2/ERF TF superfamily.


Thi Huong Do, Prapaporn Pongthai, Menaka Ariyarathne, Ooi-Kock Teh, Tomomichi Fujita. AP2/ERF transcription factors regulate salt-induced chloroplast division in the moss Physcomitrella patens. Journal of plant research. 2020 Jul;133(4):537-548

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PMID: 32314112

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