Trans-dominant suppression of plant TGA factors reveals their negative and positive roles in plant defense responses


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Salicylic acid (SA) is a key regulator for the induction of systemic acquired resistance (SAR), and NPR1 is a critical mediator for the biological effects of SA. Physical interactions between NPR1 and TGA factors, a conserved family of basic-leucine-zipper (bZip) proteins in plants, have suggested a role for these transcription factors in mediating SAR induction via the regulation of defense genes. To elucidate this function, we constructed a trans-dominant mutant that specifically eliminates DNA-binding activities of this class of bZip proteins in transgenic tobacco plants. Our results demonstrate that the loss of TGA DNA-binding activities is correlated with suppression of two xenobiotic-responsive genes, GNT35 and STR246, and enhanced induction of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes by SA. In addition, these TGA-suppressed plants exhibited higher levels of PR gene induction by pathogen challenge and an enhanced SAR. These results suggest that TGA transcription factors serve both negative and positive regulatory roles in mediating plant defense responses.