Hikaru Sato*, Takamasa Suzuki, Fuminori Takahashi, Kazuo Shinozaki and Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinoazaki*


Functional diversification of transcription factors allows the precise regulation of transcriptomic changes under different environmental conditions. The NUCLEAR FACTOR Y (NF-Y) transcription factor comprises three subunits, NF-YA, NF-YB and NF-YC, and is broadly diversified in plant species, while Humans (Homo sapiens) have one protein for each subunit. However, there much remains to be learned about the diversified functions of each subunit in plants. Here, we found that NF-YB2 and NF-YB3, which have the greatest sequence similarity to each other among NF-YB family proteins in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), are functionally diversified and specifically activate dehydration-inducible and heat-inducible genes, according to environmental conditions. Overexpression of NF-YB2 and NF-YB3 specifically enhanced drought and heat stress tolerance, respectively, and each single knockout mutant showed adverse stress-sensitive phenotypes. Transcriptomic analyses confirmed that overexpression of NF-YB2 and NF-YB3 largely affected the transcriptomic changes under dehydration and heat stress conditions, respectively. The DNA-binding profiles of each protein in planta also suggested that dehydration and heat stress increased the DNA-binding activity of NF-YB2 and NF-YB3 to dehydration-inducible and heat stress-inducible target genes, respectively. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis suggested that the NF-YB proteins of angiosperm plants belong to divergent NF-YB2 and NF-YB3 subgroups. These results demonstrate the functional diversification of NF-Y through evolutionary processes and how plants adapt to various abiotic stresses under fluctuating environments.

Paper Information

: Plant Physiology
: 10.1104/pp.19.00391