Gene expression under temperature stress

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

Abstract

In this review, changes in plant gene expression in response to environmental stresses are discussed using the examples of high and low temperature treatments. While some changes may contribute to acclimatory processes which improve plant survival or performance under stress, others may be ‘shock’ responses indicative of sensitivity. The heat‐shock response, which is almost ubiquitous among eukaryotic organisms, is characterized by repression of normal cellular protein synthesis mediated at both the transcriptional and the translational level, and induction of heat‐shock protein (HSP) synthesis. There is a correlation between HSP synthesis and induced thermotolerance in plants, but the evidence for a causal relationship is not conclusive. The possible biochemical functions of some of the HSPs are now becoming apparent; they are believed to play an important role in preventing accumulation of damaged proteins in the cell during heat shock. Although no other environmental stress elicits the full heat‐shock response, certain treatments do induce synthesis of subsets of the HSPs, and the reasons for this are considered. Alterations in gene expression in response to low temperatures are more diverse and usually less dramatic than the heat‐shock response, with which they share little, if any, homology. Biochemical adjustments during cold treatment are discussed, with particular reference to those which contribute to acclimation. Several genes whose expression is induced by cold have been cloned and characterized, and in some cases it is possible to attribute in vivo functions to them; they include enzymes of lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, structural proteins and putative cryoprotectants. The use of transgenic plants is further facilitating an investigation of the biochemical factors which are important in cold acclimation. Drought, osmotic stress and abscisic acid induce expression of many of the same genes as does cold treatment; it seems likely that some of the products of these genes contribute to increased freezing tolerance by protecting against intracellular dehydration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume125
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1993

Keywords

  • Acclimation
  • cold
  • gene expression
  • heat‐shock proteins
  • high temperature
  • stress

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