• abiotic stress;
  • protein interactions;
  • rice;
  • transcriptomics;
  • transgenics;
  • yield


  • The inbuilt mechanisms of plant survival have been exploited for improving tolerance to abiotic stresses. Stress-associated proteins (SAPs), containing A20/AN1 zinc-finger domains, confer abiotic stress tolerance in different plants, however, their interacting partners and downstream targets remain to be identified.
  • In this study, we have investigated the subcellular interactions of rice SAPs and their interacting partner using yeast two-hybrid and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) approaches. Their efficacy in improving abiotic stress tolerance was analysed in transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Regulation of gene expression by genome-wide microarray in transgenics was used to identify downstream targets.
  • It was found that the A20 domain mediates the interaction of OsSAP1 with self, its close homolog OsSAP11 and a rice receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase, OsRLCK253. Such interactions between OsSAP1/11 and with OsRLCK253 occur at nuclear membrane, plasma membrane and in nucleus. Functionally, both OsSAP11 and OsRLCK253 could improve the water-deficit and salt stress tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis plants via a signaling pathway affecting the expression of several common endogenous genes.
  • Components of a novel stress-responsive pathway have been identified. Their stress-inducible expression provided the protection against yield loss in transgenic plants, indicating the agronomic relevance of OsSAP11 and OsRLCK253 in conferring abiotic stress tolerance.