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Keywords:

  • ascorbate acid synthesis;
  • ERF protein;
  • d-Man/l-Gal pathway;
  • oxidative stress;
  • salt stress

Summary

Ascorbic acid (AsA) is an important antioxidant in plants, and its biosynthesis is finely regulated through developmental and environmental cues; however, the regulatory mechanism remains unclear. In this report, the knockout and knockdown mutants of Arabidopsis AtERF98 decreased the AsA level, whereas the overexpression of AtERF98 increased it, which suggests that AtERF98 plays an important role in regulating AsA biosynthesis. AtERF98-overexpressing plants showed enhanced expression of AsA synthesis genes in the d-mannose/l-galactose (d-Man/l-Gal) pathway and the myo-inositol pathway gene MIOX4, as well as of AsA turnover genes. In contrast, AtERF98 mutants showed decreased expression of AsA synthesis genes in the d-Man/l-Gal pathway but not of the myo-inositol pathway gene or AsA turnover genes. In addition, the role of AtERF98 in regulating AsA production was significantly impaired in the d-Man/l-Gal pathway mutant vtc1-1, but the expression of the myo-inositol pathway gene or AsA turnover genes was not affected, which indicates that the regulation of AtERF98 in AsA synthesis is primarily mediated by the d-Man/l-Gal pathway. Transient expression and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further showed that AtERF98 binds to the promoter of VTC1, which indicates that AtERF98 modulates AsA biosynthesis by directly regulating the expression of the AsA synthesis genes. Moreover, the knockout mutant aterf98-1 displayed decreased salt-induced AsA synthesis and reduced tolerance to salt. The supplementation of exogenous AsA increased the salt tolerance of aterf98-1; coincidently, the enhanced salt tolerance of AtERF98-overexpressing plants was impaired in vtc1-1. Thus, our data provide evidence that the regulation of AtERF98 in AsA biosynthesis contributes to enhanced salt tolerance in Arabidopsis.